Art meets Engineering

Bliss Hall is home to the College of Fine and Performing Arts; however, what’s inside is something you may not expect to find: a two-coil induction furnace.

Through a partnership with the Department of Art and College of STEM Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program, the Collaborative Learning Laboratory (CoLab) has brought students together for a joint educational experience.

CoLab was founded three years ago when professor and Department of Art Chair, Greg Moring, and Brian Vuksanovich, professor of MET, wanted to see how their disciplines could come together. The result is an expanding partnership.

CoLab is a project where both art and MET students benefit from “hands on experience” Vuksanovich said, as well as work with state of the art equipment. Art students build metal sculptures, and engineering students work on developing machine parts. Art students …”bring their ideas” Moring said, while engineers know …”how to execute the process.”


Since its induction, CoLab has been able to grow due to the generous support of local businesses and YSU.

Ajax Tocco Magnathermic, a Warren based heating induction and melting manufacturer, donated $125,000 towards the $150,000 two-coil furnace. Tom Illencik, President of Ajax Tocco, provided his support to ensure the installation of the two-coil furnace. The additional $25,000 came from contributions by YSU’s Office of the Provost, College of Fine &Performing Arts, and the College of STEM. Crucibles, which are used for molding metals, were donated by Fireline Inc., another Youngstown company. Prior to the new equipment being installed, students worked with a gas-fired furnace that required projects to last up to 90 minutes. Now, with the two-coil furnace, work can be completed in 15-20 minutes.

Even when art and MET students are not collaborating, both programs will be able to have access to the lab. This provides an opportunity for all students to remain engaged throughout the semester.

For F&PA and STEM, CoLab has been a continual success. Bryan DePoy, dean of F&PA conveyed that by partnering F&PA and STEM students…”we support a whole brain experience for those involved. Engineering students can benefit by working with the creativity inherent in artists, while artists can benefit from the sequential thought process valued in engineering.”

STEM Dean Martin Abraham added, “CoLab is an excellent example of interdisciplinary activity.” For students “working together, they learn how to merge their interests, the practicality with the aesthetic.  It’s truly a one-of-a-kind relationship.”

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