Steel is Real--and Growing

Students talk with representatives from Gerdau, a major steel industry company.
Students talk with representatives from Gerdau, a major steel industry company.

Contrary to popular belief, the death of the steel industry has been greatly exaggerated.  In fact, steel is booming, more than 200 Michigan Technological University students who gathered to talk with industry leaders learned at Michigan Tech’s first annual Steel Day, held earlier this week. 

Representatives from Gerdau, Nucor, ArcelorMittal and Cliffs Natural Resources came to the campus in Houghton, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, to share their excitement about steel with Michigan Tech students. 

“We love Michigan Tech students,” said Derrick Dyas, a human resources representative from Gerdau’s North American special steel mill in Monroe, Mich.  “They’re the hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves kind of employees we want. They really hit the ground running.” 

Some of the questions curious students asked included:

  •          How has the steel industry changed over the past 20 years?
  •          What kinds of jobs do environmental engineers have in the steel industry?
  •          Do you hire co-ops or interns?
  •          What kind of safety programs do you have in your mills?

“Safety is our number one value,” Dyas told the students.  "Unlike earlier days, the steel industry is committed to safety and operating in a sustainable way,” he said.

The day started with a cookout with interactive displays for the students to visit in the Dow Building atrium. In the evening, a panel of industry experts answered questions and talked with students in the Memorial Union Building.

Michigan Tech’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the Advanced Metalworks Enterprise and the student professional society Materials United worked with the University’s Career Services to organize and publicize the event, which was funded by the Association of Iron and Steel Technology (AIST).  AIST provided a three-year grant totaling $35,000 to help Michigan Tech educate its students about careers in the steel industry.

“Steel Day was meant to engage all students who might be interested in pursuing a career in the industry,” said James Desrochers of Michigan Tech’s Career Services.  “We consider this first year’s event a success and are already discussing plans for next year’s Steel Day.”

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.