Money for Students Who Call Ducks or Extrude Aluminum

Article excerpt

Suburban high schoolers (or at least their parents) constantly prowl for college scholarships. Most applications involve lots of essay writing for a chance at winning a little scholarship money. But not all.

The has been awarding college money to talented duck-callers since 1974. "Star Trek" fans planning to study a foreign language can apply for a Klingon club's . And a suburban-based international trade association offers college scholarships to high school and college students who finish at the top of its .

First, it helps to know what aluminum is.

"Think of a Play-Doh Fun Factory," explains Nancy Molenda, communications manager for the , which occupies a nondescript suite in a Wauconda office park. With that children's toy, soft Play-Doh is fed into a machine and pressed through a variety of holes that mold it into interesting shapes such as stars, triangles, spaghetti and such. Aluminum extruders do the same thing by using powerful hydraulic presses and heated billets of aluminum.

"You make it warm and push it through a shape," Molenda says as she shows off an elaborate, round, snowflake-looking that fits into a pump used by commercial fishing vessels to make an icy slush that preserves the catch.

Using a process invented in 1904, aluminum extruders make frames for doors and windows, computer laptops, complex heat exchangers, dental equipment, lightweight parts found in the latest automobiles, solar energy parts and enough other products to use about 20 billion pounds of extruded aluminum each year, says Jeff Henderson, director of marketing and business development for Sapa Extrusions, a worldwide aluminum company headquartered in Rosemont. Sapa is the chief sponsor of the scholarship design contest, which is an industry attempt to educate people about the possibilities of products made through aluminum extrusion.

"We don't have the equivalent of 'Got Milk,'" says Craig Werner, 54, who cut his extrusion teeth as a third-generation member of the Werner family ladder-manufacturing business. The Lake Forest resident now runs a consulting business called Werner Extrusions Solutions and is a full-time volunteer with the Aluminum Extruders Council. …