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Culture - Feb 28, 2022

Waupaca Foundry Helps Celebrate 75 Years Of The Foundry Education Foundation

Lydia Engelbreth | Waupaca Foundry

Current Waupaca Foundry employees and previous FEF students help celebrate 75 years of Fouondry Education Foundation operation.

In 2022, the Foundry Education Foundation less formally known as FEF celebrates its 75th year. The program started in 1947, two years after WWII ended, due to the high demand for skilled workers in the metalcasting industry.

Today, there are 33 accredited FEF colleges in North America. Colleges go through an accreditation process that shows their commitment to the metalcasting industry along with demonstrating their dedication to applied learning. FEF connects companies with highly qualified engineers through the College Industry Conference, the only job fair and conference dedicated solely to the metalcasting industry.

Each year, 100 students are hand-selected to attend the job fair and conference held in November. The job fair allows students to meet with some of the most elite manufacturing companies in North America, including but not limited to; Waupaca Foundry, General Motors, Ford, and John Deere.

Waupaca Foundry has engaged with FEF for decades. In fact, retired President & CEO, Gary Gigante is an FEF alumnus. Gigante graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1978 and was a scholarship recipient while in school. Gary later served on the FEF Board of Directors from 1990-1994.
Each FEF school has a Key Professor that helps students connect to them with the world of metalcasting. Key Professors connect students to both internships and scholarships.

2020 University of Wisconsin Platteville graduate and FEF alumnus, Eli Kallio is a Tooling Engineer at Waupaca Foundry Plant 2/3. It’s evident that he is proud to have been part of the FEF community and was a recipient of an FEF scholarship. “[The scholarships] were really helpful and something that I don’t think many people knew about it at first,” said Eli. The scholarship is one reason he didn’t need financial assistance.

Waupaca Foundry has hired FEF members for decades and currently employs more than 20 FEF alumni.
Plant Manager, Cody Dawson-Rhodes was selected as one of the elite few selected to participate in the 2004 College Industry Conference. Cody recalled, “there were a lot of employers to pick from. Waupaca had the reputation among the students that you could get a job and you could turn that job into something more; unlike other companies where you might be stuck doing what you started doing for 30 or 40 years.”

Former FEF student and current Waupaca Foundry Tooling Engineer Technician, Maddie Smith graduated from Penn State in 2018. Maddie had already secured an internship with Waupaca Foundry thanks to FEF and her participation in the College Industry Conference. Maddie said that FEF secured her role in the metalcasting industry, “Without [FEF] I wouldn’t be here.”

Kirk Kallio, Human Resources Director and FEF champion has recently stepped into the role of Vice-Chair of FEF. Waupaca Foundry is proud to be an active member of the Foundry Education Foundation.   
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