For several years there have been limited opportunities for employed part time students to progress their studies to Higher Educational level yet there is data to show a shortage of qualified, experienced metallurgists. These shrinking numbers relate to the ageing workforce; knowledge and skills not being replaced.
Metallurgy is used in our everyday lives. You wouldn’t be surprised to learn that aeroplanes, trains, cars are made up of metal, aluminium and titanium and other metal materials. They are chosen because of their strength to withhold the stresses caused in flight but are also lightweight. To manage these materials to become even stronger and resistant to rust, the designer must understand what type of metals can be merged without separating in flight or at high speeds.
Metallurgy has been around from the time of the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age, since man first discovered copper which is a naturally occurring, relatively pure metal. In the Stone Age gold and silver were found to be too soft to be used as tools, but the first useful metals discovered were copper and bronze. Bronze Age Britain was marked by prehistoric Britons using copper and bronze to fashion tools out of such metals, for weapons, utensils, and agricultural use.
So, what is metallurgy? As prehistoric Britons discovered it is a process that is used for the extraction of metals in their pure form. Now the science is developed further to study the chemical and physical behaviour of metallic elements and their alloys.
Stainless steel is a relatively new metal being first developed over 100 years ago. This discovery put Yorkshire on the map as an important place in the industrialisation for metals, with the invention of stainless steel by Harry Brearley of Sheffield in 1913. Brearley discovered stainless steel while he was resolving the problem of erosion of the internal surfaces of gun barrels for the British Army during the onset of the First World War.
From then the UK has been at the forefront for producing steel and we must maintain this expertise.
UK mustn’t lose this skill to be outsourced to other countries and M&C strives to teach the designers, the metallurgists the educational side of understanding the properties of metals.
Let’s hope that one day soon, free from covid-19 related issues, we can fly to other countries and perhaps take a moment to think about the achievement how the human civilisation has created such transportation and it being access to us all.
Richard Brown @ M&C Educational Training Services
(pictured – Richard on a recent visit to the ECMS)