Student Cupola Contest


National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art & Practices

Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark
Birmingham, Alabama
March 31 - April 3, 2021

Due to the current pandemic, the National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices (NCCCIAP) will be held virtually in 2021, but we look forward to supplementing and deepening these remote sessions around our 2021 theme, Lived Histories/Imagined Futures.  As a guiding framework for engaging the lived histories and future possibilities of cast iron, we will draw from our shared archive, the Pig Iron Rough Notes, and we will produce a new volume of the Rough Notes with contributions from conference participants. 

The Steering Committee for the National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices invites student groups to submit for the virtual student cupola contest.


Registration Fee: $10.00

Contact: Jam Rohr and Danny Rohr:



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

  • 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 completely by students. No outsourced fabrication allowed.

  • 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. 

  • Limit of six members per team on the 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:

CoachPromptAdviseOr be on the casting floor during the competition.


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."

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




  • Each team will gate one Fluidity Test pattern. Design and dimensions of the pattern will be provided by Sloss.

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



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

  • Competition molds must be poured first.



This year as part of the student cupola contest we will continue to incorporate a student designed pattern as part of the competition. 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 competition overlord, saw how this would naturally fit into the student cupola contest. 


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

  • Pattern must be appropriate for a two-part mold.

  • It cannot be a burnout pattern or vaporized pattern.

  • It must represent your school, institution, or team and have the date (April 2021)

  • Pattern must have a hole (5” Dia min.) 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.





The first crew to reach 500 viewers

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 the overall win / best product.

School Spirit 

This award will be given to the crew who has received the most support from their school whether it be funds allocated to the sculpture department for the competition or furnace build, most people who tune in from the school including students, faculty, and staff, most supportive decoration and signs, etc.

Catwalk Award

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


Community Choice

This award goes to the crew voted on the most by those who streamed in to watch the competition. There will be a poll after every crew has completed the pour.



Work with your Institution


Look for student research grants. Reach out to your intuitions Office of Undergraduate Research. The definition of research focuses on inquiry. The NCCCIAP student cupola contest connects faculty and students to recognize inquiry to be a process and/or a product which centers on asking questions or solving problems and which encompasses intellectual traits that transcend subject matter divisions. Examples of such processes common to the disciplines include questioning existing ideas, identifying approaches to unstructured problems, thinking creatively, exploring new ideas and examining the processes by which knowledge is discovered. What you are doing is research! Reach out, write a grant, and get funding for your student cupola.   


Reach out to your media department and see if videography/film students may want to work with you to record the competition pour. You could not only overcome any filming issues but have a better quality video and higher quality sound.


Notes on Filming

Make sure your video is an MP4 file. This could be a benefit to working with a media department because they could easily convert your video for you to your film in the proper format in the first place.




Deadline for content: November 13, 2020


Contact: Jam Rohr & Danny Rohr:

This year, since we cannot attend the conference in person, we are working to highlight student accomplishments and achievements during the pandemic. The purpose of this student resource share is to allow an opportunity for students to learn from each other while sharing their wealth of knowledge with the cast iron community. If you have information that may be helpful to others please feel free to share! Have you figured out how to cast metal from home, how to weld uniquely, exceptional metal fabrication techniques, cold working in a garage, pattern making, or anything that has helped you continue your sculptural practice despite limited access to a shop or foundry? We want to know about it! Share your videos and notes with us.

Contact, Jam Rohr and Danny Rohr: with questions or concerns.

More information about the NCCCIAP is available online: