“This is not your grandfather’s manufacturing” said Christopher Gaylo, Director of Industrial Technologies at Hartzell Technology Hall.
Major renovations began on Northampton Community College’s Hartzell Hall a day after the spring semester ended and were completed Aug. 21st, three days before the start of the fall semester.
Hartzell Hall, named after its leader Eugene Hartzell, houses The Manufacturing, Technology and Trades Center
The renovations were a collaborative effort by its staff and outsiders, and included NCC Professors Kevin Marsden and Karen Parker.
NCC was able to make massive changes to the Technology Department because of a TAACCCT grant, giving students a hands-on learning experience with state-of-the-art equipment, as well as improving the colleges’ visibility as a whole in the greater Lehigh Valley.
The three main areas benefiting from the overhaul are the welding, instrumentation, and metallurgy laboratories.
The welding laboratory was upgraded with a CNC Plasma Cutting Table. Generating ionized gas, this high-tech equipment has ability to reach temperatures of 15,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It cuts a clean, straight or curved line by the use of a computer control system and is used for stick welding or submerged art.
Demonstrated by Dino Forst, who runs the Materials and Weld Training, the Plasma Cutting System can sketch an intricate design, such as the Cheshire Cat from “Alice in Wonderland.” It then carves through the metal sheet to create the illustration, bringing it to life.
Another feature the Welding Lab offers are virtual reality systems. Two virtual welding machines allow students to practice technique before they begin their weld. The computer screen gives guidance and direction to the proper distance and angle of torch to metal. Students then fire it up and go live as the system gives results when finished. This futuristic technology delivers the ultimate avenue for improvement and for students to master their skills.
Subsequently, the Welding Laboratory has 30 dual wire-feed, gas-metal arc systems in all welding booths for students to practice; each containing their own custom made clamps designed by a NCC student and fabricated by the welding staff. It has an adjustable tilt to set to the user’s liking and is better than what one can find in today’s industry.
In addition, the system features a centralized exhaust system with blowers carrying smoke and fumes outdoors, permitting a normal conversation as people can hear one another speak.
The Metallurgy Laboratory can brag about its upgrades, too. Students can gaze at crystal arrangements of different steels under a microscope and polish sections to see the grain structure.
The new Tensile Tester, in the classroom next door, pulls apart metal to see where it fails and at what point. It can pull up to 60,000 pounds.
Another feature is the Notch Impact Tester that shows how brittle material is and how much energy it can take before failure. This advanced technology is “directly and immediately applicable to the real world,” said Mr. Gaylo.
The Metallurgy Lab prepares students for jobs in the oil pipeline industry and others.
The instrumentation laboratory/classroom combination provides its own set of unique features. Eight students can work on PLC’s (programmable logic controller) at a time—the latest state-of-the-art equipment in use today. Through process control trainers, learners practice measuring temperature, pressure, flow, pH, and water volume.
Most rooms contain a viewing window so not to disrupt learning, but allowing outsiders to watch.
Skip Todora, head of all instrumentation processes, has a classroom with 12 industrial automation systems for students to do hands-on training as well.
Hartzell Hall also offers a Robotics Laboratory with—yes—a real robot. The life-size machinery has a computer screen head, with “eyes”, a body, and two arms to perform different tasks. Craig Edwards, head of Electronics Technology, “teaches” the robot different movements by programming its functions. Located on the arm, Edwards can turn a dial and command it precisely how to pick up items or sort through boxes.
In conjunction with the Robotics Lab, the building has a CAD laboratory, facilitating students with rapid phonotypic systems. In the future, they will be able to create endofectors with the help of 3-D models. Endofectors are the clippers or “hands” of the robot and will be made for real usage by NCC students.
Other classrooms include a HVAC air conditioning area. Under the instruction of Daniel Philipps, students can work with the latest AC units on the market. Adjacent, is the heating side, With only the slight aroma of diesel fuel, students can work on oil-based or natural gas items as well.
More areas of learning include solar and geo-thermal training systems, or photovoltaics. Located outside is a simulation roof, constructed at ground level, for students to practice their solar panel work.
Photovoltaics is getting to the point of being cost competitive with grid-based power. It is in fact cost effective in remote locations and only a matter of time until it’s efficient in urban settings as technology continues to advance.
A mechanical lab features hydraulic and nomadic systems. And there is an electronics lab where students test their knowledge on baseboard models. They can plug in different components to examine their signals and see whether they got it right.
“All instructors have extensive industry and teaching experience, providing an ideal combination for student learning,” said Christopher Gaylo.