Student Voice


January 28, 2023


A greener glass furnace installed at UW-River Falls

October 3, 2008

The UW-River Falls art department has recently done their part in making the UWRF campus greener by getting an electric glass furnace for their glass blowing classes that replaced their old gas model. The new furnace came in this summer at a cost of $40,000.

Art student Jackson Schwartz described the new furnace as “a really well built, nice piece of equipment.”
“It is easier for the students to use,” Jim Engebretson, professor of the glass blowing classes, said. “It holds larger amounts of glass, melts the glass quicker, can be insulated twice as much as the old one and has a larger opening which makes it easier to get the glass out.”

The new electric furnace is not only greener and easier than the old gas furnace, but safer as well. Even though the new furnace is safer, students are still required to take proper safety procedures, such as not wearing synthetic clothing and always working with a partner.

“No combustion, no flame, no fire,” Engebretson said.

Not only was the old furnace not environmentally friendly, but it was also cracking and contaminated with all the different glass pieces inside, student Pauly Cudd said.

The new furnace can be fixed easier and more affordably if multiple things were to go wrong, while the old furnace would have had to be replaced entirely. The heating elements and the crucible can be replaced if they break.

“It was worth every penny,” Cudd said.

Cudd explained how the old furnace was affecting student’s education because it limited what they were able to do. He wrote a letter, which was signed by students in the glass blowing classes, to the Dean of Education in the art department requesting a new furnace. The result of his letter was the new safer, greener furnace.

“The new furnace ensures that River Falls will have equipment for a long time,” Engebretson said.

In the past the art department built their own glass furnaces that would usually only last five years, Engebretson said.The art department stopped building their own equipment approximately 12 years ago.

The glass blowing classes are located in the Kleinpell Fine Arts building. There are both cold and hot glass studios. Students can be seen working on their glass blowing projects outside of class. There are two glass blowing classes offered at UWRF, Intro to Glass (Art 229) and Studio Glass (Art 329). Both classes are taught by Jim Engebretson. A student does not need to be an art major or have any prerequisites in order to take Intro to Glass.

When asked if the students enjoyed the new furnace, “Yes,” Engebretson said. “They seem to be in love.”