Engineers Week 2024: Welcome to the Future

From researching ways to develop new products and refine processes, to programming digital interfaces and designing stations for equipment, engineers play an important role in the company’s success. In celebration of Engineers Week, February 18-24, 2024, we are featuring three of our engineers – sharing their advice to students interested in engineering careers, reasons they made AMERICAN their home, and their roles in creating top products for the nation’s water and energy infrastructure.


Zeb Dahlke

When Zeb Dahlke’s engineering journey took unexpected turns, his resiliency and innovative curiosity propelled him through academia and to AMERICAN. His engineering journey began at Wallace State Community College and carried him to UAB, where he found his passion for material science in his third year of college.

Dahlke encourages students who are worried about tuition costs to network with engineers in the community and to explore co-op and scholarship opportunities to assist them in reaching their academic and career goals.

“After earning enough credits to transfer from Wallace State to UAB through the Joint Admissions Program, I applied for engineering scholarships that helped me attend UAB to get my bachelor’s in material science,” Dahlke said. “While at UAB, I was selected for a co-op at a manufacturing company that enabled me to gain experience in the field and opened new doors for me.”

After earning his master’s degree in material science at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Dahlke joined AMERICAN as a manufacturing engineer in Steel Pipe QA in September 2021. In QA, he tracks the properties and microstructure of pipe and researches new ways to refine the company’s production processes.

Dahlke advises engineering students to abandon the fear of failure to improve problem-solving skills. “Resiliency is key in this industry,” he added. “Being prepared to fail time and time again until you find the answer, is what will lead you to long-term success.”


Mike Kora

Growing up in a military family, Mike Kora watched his dad excel in the U.S. Air Force and knew he wanted to find a company where he could be part of a close-knit team and one where his Christian beliefs would be shared by his co-workers.

AMERICAN’s people and the Christian principles of the company’s founder John Eagan are what drew him to the company, Kora said. “During my hiring interview, I was asked what my priorities were,” he continued. “I said they were God, my family and my job, in that order. I was happy to hear the Engineering director at the time say that I had arrived at the right place.”

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Kora joined the company in 2002 as a design engineer and was able to apply his knowledge of design and electrical engineering to program PLCs (programmable logic controllers) in the plant, design substations and collaborate with electricians in the Plant Maintenance Department to help design and commission new machines.

Kora received his Professional Engineer License in 2006 and now serves as a senior project manager, overseeing the projects of seven electrical engineers in the Engineering Division.

Kora advises students to not be discouraged if they come across difficulties in school and said there will always be opportunities in engineering. “Persevere through engineering school and surround yourself with people who know the material well,” he said. “Remember there will always be a demand for more engineers in the manufacturing industry. Engineering is tough, but it’s very rewarding.”


Christian Stewart

After completing his engineering co-op at Mercedes-Benz in Vance, Alabama, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Christian Stewart searched for an engineering position that would provide stability and security. After hearing about AMERICAN’s culture and Golden Rule business philosophy from family members, including his father Rob Stewart, who works with Human Resources, he researched the company online and met with recruiters at a career fair. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama, he applied for a manufacturing engineer position with the company in December 2021. Stewart passed the interview process and joined AMERICAN in the middle of Christmas shutdown. He noted it was the perfect opportunity to learn about the company’s production equipment and facilites from co-workers.

“Being able to work with other manufacturing engineers and Plant Maintenance employees on refurbishing existing equipment, installing new equipment and performing pre-startup checklists was a great way to learn how each part of production works,” Stewart said. “I saw everyone working together to make sure everything was in place for the new year, and I met so many great people who I still work with today.”

As a manufacturing engineer in the Melting Department, Stewart works on continuous improvement projects involving the cupola, mixer and induction furnaces. Stewart also evaluates new technologies to improve the company’s processes and efficiencies.

“Working in the manufacturing industry requires you to think out of the box to find new approaches to solve problems and create ways to prevent them from happening again,” he added.