The Steering Committee for the National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices invites any and all students to participate in the student cupola contest at the 2019 conference! This is a friendly competition to introduce students to furnace design, construction, and operation on a national stage. Only student-built furnaces qualify. We don’t discriminate; cupolas, cupolettes, continuous, and intermittent types are all welcome. Furnaces must have 10 inch inside diameter and be operated entirely by student teams. See guidelines for full details. AND YOU BETTER BRING IT!


Massachusetts College of Art & Design

The Commuter Furnace

Gary Parzych - Captain

Marjee Levine - Mentor

University of Kentucky


Jonathan Forrence - Captain

Jeremy Colbert - Mentor

University of Memphis


Emily Hogan - Captain

Peter Hoffecker Mejia - Mentor


Bradley University


Taylor Fawcett - Captain

Fisher Stolz - Mentor

University of Wisconsin Whitewater


Ariana Berman - Captain

Teresa Lind - Mentor 

Exhibition Team

Daddy Keen’s School of Hot Metal

Donnie’s ‘Almost There’ Furnace

Donnie Keen - Captain

Meredith “Butch” Jack - Mentor


  • Teams must designate a Captain as the primary contact person; each team must have a faculty sponsor.

  • All teams must be present on Monday morning, April 1st at 9am in #2 Casting Shed. At minimum, the Captain must be present.

  • Furnace must have an inside diameter of 10 inches. Furnaces will be measured at the tuyeres. Those that do not meet the guidelines will be disqualified.

  • Furnaces must be built by students.

  • Teams provide their own tools, equipment, and supplies for furnace operation and competition preparation.

  • All equipment must run on 110-volt power.

  • Cupolas or Cupolettes, Intermittent, or Continuous types are all acceptable.

  • Minimum of three members per team. If you want to compete with your furnace but do not have enough team members, are a lone competitor, or are a recent graduate, please contact the contest directors.

  • Limit of six members per team on pouring floor at a time. Teams may have additional members who can be rotated in.

  • Faculty sponsor must be present during the pour but MAY NOT:

    • Coach

    • Prompt

    • Advise

    • Or be on the casting floor

There will be judges, assistants, spies, etc. on the lookout. This competition is meant to test the abilities of the students, and for them to safely demonstrate their skills. Faculty sponsors or any other affiliated collegiate member found breaking these rules will disqualify their team.

  • Team Captains must be present for a Safety Meeting before the competition light off (location, time, and date TBA)

  • All furnace sites must be cleaned and furnaces removed by 12:00pm on the day following the competition. (Sloss personnel will approve cleaned sites.)

  • Furnaces that have run at previous conferences are not eligible to compete again.

  • COKE (as much as necessary)

  • IRON 400lb (bring your own hammers)

  • PROPANE 100lb (bring your own torches, hoses, and regulators)

  • O2 LANCE (operated by Sloss personnel)




  • Each team will gate one Fluidity Test pattern. Provided by Sloss.

  • Each team will ram and gate a Sloss Chain Link pattern. Provided by Sloss.

  • Each team will ram and gate a Student Chain Link pattern. Provided by the team.

  • Each team will ram and gate Production Stackers. Provided by Sloss.



  • Competition molds must be poured first.

  • Each team may bring additional personal molds to cast after the contest molds have been poured.

  • Additional molds may be poured with balance of metal provided.

  • Sloss will provide 400lbs of iron for the competition. 200lbs will be dedicated to competition molds, and the remaining 200lbs may be used for personal molds.

  • Additional molds may not be made at Sloss, as part of a conference workshop, or with conference resources and materials.

  • No reaction molds.




This year as part of the student cupola contest, we will continue the tradition of pouring a student designed and built pattern. Patternmaking is as important to this process as is furnace operation. Each team will design and build a chain link, which will be joined with a Sloss chain link in order to create a tangible connection between the competitors and Sloss. The original intent of Mr. Meredith (Butch) Jack’s call for a “Chain for America” was to have links made all over the country at different casting events. Those links would travel from place to place and be connected as they were made. Noah Kirby, longtime student cupola contest overlord, saw how this would naturally fit into the student cupola contest and incorporated it. The chain now lives at Sloss.


  • Pattern must fit within a 12” x 16” x 3” box.

  • Pattern must appropriate for a two-part mold (Sloss will provide flasking).

  • It cannot be a burn out pattern or a vaporized pattern.

  • It must represent your school, institution, or team and have the date (April 2019)

  • Pattern must have a hole (5” diameter minimum) that will allow it to be connected to the Sloss Link.

  • Finished casting becomes part of the Sloss Chain and will stay at Sloss.

  • Sloss personnel will approve each pattern before it is molded. Teams with patterns deemed inappropriate will be disqualified from the competition.

  • The Student Chain Link Pattern is part of the contest. Teams without a chain link pattern will be disqualified from the competition.


All stages of the iron casting process will be considered. A team will not only be judged on how they worked together, but how they worked and helped others from the time they arrive until cleanup is done. Professionalism! A good crew is not just determined by how well they pour metal, but how they function and exemplify grace under pressure during all stages of the process.

First Tap

To be considered for this award, a judge must be notified before the first tap of your furnace.


Hottest Overall Metal

The fluidity test mold can be poured at any point during your campaign.


Production Furnace

This award will be given to the crew that has the most products successfully cast from the production molds. In the event of a tie, the quality of the casting will be inspected to determine overall win / best product.


The Wolf Pack Award

All judges / assistants will choose the crew they felt best embodied the ideas of teamwork and camaraderie.


Catwalk Award

A special guest judge will pick what they consider to be the most unique, innovative, and/or aesthetically dynamic furnace design.

Sloss Furnaces 

20 32nd St N

Birmingham, AL 35222

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© 2019 design by Feral Fagiola.