Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, March 26, 2024

South Dakota Mines Bladesmithing Team Takes Home First Place

Continuing a proud tradition of success, the South Dakota Mines Bladesmithing team took home the Wadsworth-Sherby Grand Prize in the International 2024 Bladesmithing Competition hosted by The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS). Pictured, from left: Brianna Hoff, Cole Ledman, Cora Gehrke, Tyler Reinarts, Christopher Mercado,Antonio Romero, Stephen Gebes.

Continuing a proud tradition of success, the South Dakota Mines Bladesmithing team took home the Wadsworth-Sherby Grand Prize in the International 2024 Bladesmithing Competition hosted by The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS). Nearly 30 universities from all over the world competed in the competition earlier this month in Orlando, Fla.

The team’s blade was inspired by various historical swords from the Migration Period in Europe – approximately 300 to 700 CE. The primary source of inspiration was a sword made in the seventh century and found in Sutton Hoo, England. The pattern on the sword was based on a separate sword made in the sixth century and found in Vehmaa, Finland.

“We chose this style of blade because we know the competition judges like pattern welding and because they often have garnets inlaid into the hilt, which, to our knowledge, no one had done before in the competition,” said Tyler Reinarts, a senior metallurgical engineering major at South Dakota Mines. “We also smelted Black Hills iron ore into wrought iron, which we incorporated into our pattern welding. We also liked this blade style because it allowed us to cast the metal hilt components.”

The team wanted to use as many materials as possible from the Black Hills. This included not only iron ore but also garnets. The iron ore was added to the blade, and the hilt used local antler, horn and a handful of garnets found within the Black Hills.

The team’s strong interest in historical blades is shared by Antonio Romero, a senior electrical engineering major.  

“I grew up around historical blades, seeing them in my father’s collection and, more recently, traveling the world seeing collections of arms and armor in museums,” he said. “There is a special kind of challenge in recreating a historical blade and trying to understand how it was made. One of the main driving factors for our blade choice was the difficulty; we needed something extremely challenging but could also be a show-stopping beauty.”

The team was excited to see the competition’s blades at the conference, but felt confident going into the competition knowing how much design and hard work they put in. Being awarded first place among 24 teams was a sweet conclusion to these efforts.

Many factors contributed to the South Dakota Mines victory, but collaboration and teamwork were key.

“The balance between senior members and new members is what made this possible,” said Christopher Mercado, senior metallurgical engineering major. “Not only did the newcomers help the senior members through every step of the project, but they also learned so that they could lead the future of bladesmithing.”

Brianna Hoff, a senior metallurgical engineering major at Mines, also said the technical research that went into the project was a significant factor in the team’s success.

She added that the education and support received from the faculty and metallurgical engineering department also helped pave a pathway to success.

“The classes we have to take as metallurgical engineering majors gave us a broad technical background and valuable practice in designing experiments and reporting results,” she said. “That being said, the importance of individual research and hands-on skills acquired through involvement in clubs like Blacksmithing and Casting cannot be overstated.”

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About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Gray Hughes, 605-394-2554, Gray.Hughes@sdsmt.edu

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