South Dakota Mines Summer Camp Science Of Swords

Summer Camp: Science of Swords

Science of Swords – An Elite Bladesmithing Experience is an immersive, week-long workshop for high school students to conduct bladesmithing and experience the Science of Swords!

Students will work directly with master blacksmith Mr. Jack Parks (Fire Steel Forge) to create a chef’s knife using traditional forging and heat-treating techniques. In addition to daily hands-on forging and blacksmithing activities, students will also explore the science and engineering principles behind blade-making under the guidance of Metallurgical Engineering Department Head Dr. Michael West. This component will include investigation of the scientific literature (ASM Handbooks, Materials Science and Engineering – An Introduction by Callister & Rethwisch) and laboratory testing. This is an elite workshop limited to 8-10 students.

Scientific/engineering principles will include:

  • Structure of metals
  • Principles of metalworking and forging
  • Processing and hardening of blades by heat treatment
  • Characterization of metals through advanced microscopy
  • Blade testing and performance


All prospective campers must complete the following items before their summer camp application will be evaluated.

  1. Submit the online registration.
  2. Submit the workshop application with online registration. Application includes class standing (e.g., fresh, soph etc.), GPA, ACT score (if available), science classes taken, and an essay that describes student experiences working with metals (e.g. welding, casting, blacksmithing) and/or interest in pursing a degree in Metallurgical Engineering at SD Mines.
    • Provide contact information (name, email and phone number) of a trusted teacher so that we can ask that they complete a brief recommendation survey for the student.   

    It's important to note that acceptance into the program is not guaranteed. Evaluation and notification will take place for each student after the registration form, personal essay and teacher recommendation are completed and returned to the camp director, Dr. Michael West. This workshop will be limited to a small number of participants to ensure that all students can maximize their immersive experience.

      South Dakota Mines Summer Camp Participants  

    Cost: Tuition is free
    Grades: 9th-12th    
    • Workshop hours 8 am - 5 pm daily (lunch provided) - on campus lodging available upon request for non-residential participants 
    • Competitive application process—submission of application does not guarantee admission to program 
    • Personal essay required
    • Application review begins in March 
    • All workshop costs provided by Nucor Steel and the SD Mines Department of Materials & Metallurgical Engineering  

    For more information

    Contact Camp Director
    Dr. Mike West
    (605) 394-1283

    Brought to you by —

    Mike West METFaculty from the SD Mines Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering which offers both undergraduate and graduate studies.  ( Learn more about what material scientists and metallurgical engineers do).

    This camp is directed by department head Dr. Mike West, who can find the magic in any material. Students enjoy a fun combination of indoors and outdoors activities and lots of hands-on learning.