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From the Editor “This world…ever was, and is, and shall be, ever-living Fire.”—Heraclitus sprang from a conversation with Greg Estelle ’85 last fall at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. How the subject came up at an exhibit of African art curated by Wabash Professor of Art Elizabeth Morton, I still don’t know. “There are only two industries that actually create real wealth,” Greg told me. “Agriculture and manufacturing. Almost everything else is involved in distributing that wealth.” Greg described amazing, photogenic processes he’d seen in his career as a manufacturer and manufacturing consultant. “After thousands of years of working with materials, you would think it would all be known, yet people are finding new ways to shape, form, and utilize materials every day,” he said. “There is nothing sexier than hot, molten metal!” The “hottest of the hot,” he said, was at places like Harrison Steel Castings in nearby Attica, IN, where parts were being created for earthmoving trucks made by Caterpillar with tires twice as tall as a man. “They’re pouring at 2,800 degrees up there,” he said. “Think of it this way: If you put your finger in that, it doesn’t burn; it explodes. “A lot of people fear America is losing its place in the economic order, but what’s really happening is that other nations are rising up. The real opportunity is recognizing the benefits in pulling everyone up; Caterpillar is a major player in doing that.” And a foundry right up the road supplies parts for them, making some of the largest metal castings in the world. The story got even better when Greg explained that the production analyst/production system coordinator at Harrison was Eric Carroll ’08. In 2009, Eric’s job at Ford had become a victim of the recession; he’d returned home to Attica and had been working with the College food service the last time we’d seen him. His reemergence at Harrison would make this a story about not only how the largest steel castings in the world were made, but also how a Wabash man remade his career. Eric’s work at Harrison, where he provides “big picture” analyses of the production process, has a liberal-arts-education feel to it, with a nod to Heraclitus. That process is all about fire: one-part high-tech, one-part primeval. Eric showed us steel spilling from a giant cauldron THE NOTION FOR THIS “HOW IT’S MADE” EDITION



like lava from a barely controlled volcano, parts glowing red even as their molecules settled down to a final shape, workers using miniature arcs of lightning to smooth parts made for giant machines. A startling and beautiful process made possible by men and women

“There is nothing sexier than hot, molten metal.”—Greg Estell ’85 with the guts to go to work every day with buckets of 2,800-degree molten metal hanging over their heads. People make amazing things, often behind the scenes, often underappreciated. We’ve sampled a few here—from steel to a theater set to

Carroll talks with Harrison Steel Floor Molding Supervisor, Bugs Lanum

a national championship to ravioli and a small business start-up in tough economic times. We’re letting the pictures do much of the talking, and I hope they convey a fraction of the wonder, respect, and fun we’ve experienced learning “how it’s made.” Thanks for reading. Steve Charles | Editor

Wabash Magazine  

The Journal of Wabash College

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