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Annual Forging Foundation (FIERF) Forging Competition Showcases Student Skill in Metalworking

Cleveland State University Takes Home Grand Prize

By Angela Gibian 

Milwaukee, WI — April 25, 2024 — The Forging Foundation (FIERF) recently hosted its annual Forging Competition, an event designed to challenge students' creativity and technical talent in the art of forging while competing for top honors and prizes.

The most recent 2024 competition attracted teams from universities across the country, each tasked with crafting a Halligan Bar, a versatile tool essential for firefighters in emergency operations. Teams were given the freedom to innovate beyond traditional designs, aiming to enhance the tool's utility and performance.

"We are thrilled to see the level of innovation and dedication from each participating team," said Angela Gibian, Executive Director of FIERF. "This competition not only highlights the students' craftsmanship but also fosters collaboration between academia and industry, a cornerstone of our mission."

Teams, comprising up to eight members, were required to include at least one current college student and a university faculty representative, with additional participation from industry partners and high school students strongly encouraged. Entries were evaluated based on criteria such as creativity, technical proficiency, innovation, and the quality of their project documentation.

On April 25, 2024, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the competing teams engaged in rigorous onsite testing, where each Halligan Bar was evaluated for prying, punching, twisting, and striking capabilities, ensuring functionality matched design ingenuity.

Teams included students from:

- Cleveland State University
- The Ohio State University
- Colorado School of Mines
- University of North Texas
- Purdue University
- University of Cincinnati

Cleveland State University (CSU) stood out among the participants, with their team consisting of students Zachary Wheeler and Stefan Blagojevic. The duo excelled in two categories: ‘Best

Forging’ and ‘Best Performance Based on Testing and Expert Evaluation’. Their exceptional efforts were also recognized with the overall Grand Prize for this year’s competition.

In addition to individual accolades, awards were presented for ‘Best Design and Process’ – Colorado School of Mines, ‘Most Authentic Halligan Bar Design’ - University of Cincinnati and ‘Best Project Video’ – The Ohio State University. For more information about the Forging Foundation and its initiatives, visit

About the Forging Foundation |

Established in 1961, the Forging Industry Educational and Research Foundation (FIERF) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Operating as a “supporting organization” to the Forging Industry Association (FIA), the Foundation’s Mission is to support the forging industry through technology development and education.

FIERF builds our future workforce by promoting our industry, awarding scholarships, identifying and sharing employment opportunities and encouraging participation in forging research and projects.