One of the last assignments that Western Nevada College welding technology and industrial technology students completed before classes ended this spring is a hit with the Carson City Little League. In a community service gesture, the WNC students repaired one of the leagueâ€™s 11-year-old pitching machines, and also solved a technical problem with the leagueâ€™s hitting screens.
Along the way, WNC soldering students tackled a real-world problem on a circuit board, and welding students made modifications and repairs to some of the leagueâ€™s equipment.
The students were faced with hitting screens that were larger than the protective nets they were to hold. Led by Welding Professor Randy Naylor, the students removed a foot of metal from the hitting screens so the nets would fit.
While cutting down the hitting screens to fit the protective nets rendered a quick solution, that wasnâ€™t the case with the broken pitching machine.
â€œFirst, I sent it down to our welding shop, and they opened it up for me and sent it back to the electronics lab,â€ said WNC Electronics and Industrial Technology Professor Emily Howarth. â€œWhen it was open, it was clear that part of the circuit board had burned straight through due to some kind of overcurrent situation.â€
Before proceeding with repairs, Howarth thought it was important to engage students in the project.
â€œI invited my soldering instructor to get involved, and he took it to our soldering class and showed them the damage on the circuit board. He was able to demonstrate how to repair the burned copper trace on the circuit board,â€ she said.
Next, Howarth needed to determine what caused the circuit board to fail. Due to the age of the pitching machine, schematics information and an ownerâ€™s manual were unavailable.
Howarth sought out the manufacturer of the machine, and fortunately it was located nearby in Sparks. One of the techs at the plant helped Howarth with the parts and instructions needed to complete the project . â€œWe put everything back together in somewhat of a Frankenstein style, cleaned it up and tested it, and lo and behold, it threw balls again!â€ Howarth said.
The two projects saved the Carson City Little League thousands of dollars and kept practices running smoothly this spring, according to league board members, and the effort did not go unnoticed.
â€œWe appreciate the support from the college,â€ said CCLL Vice President Michelle Pedersen. â€œCarson City Little League serves 650 local youths, and running a league of this size comes with a lot of costs, so when you have community support to help save us money where we can, itâ€™s greatly appreciated.â€
League President Tom Lawson said the work done by WNC on the hitting screens provide safety to coaches and hitters during batting practices.
â€œThey allow for the person throwing to the hitters to be closer without fear of being struck by a batted ball,â€ Lawson said. â€œThe metal work completed by the WNC Welding Technology Department allowed for the safety nets to fit the frames properly, which makes play safer for everyone on the field.â€
â€œIt was a great, fun project all around and neat to be able to show soldering students a real-world repair on a circuit board, as well as to find so many people who were willing to â€˜pitch in,â€™â€ said Howarth.
WNCâ€™s service to the youth organization kept the Little Leaguersâ€™ season running smoothly, said an appreciative Robert Glenn, a CCLL board member.
“The WNC Welding Technology Department stepped up to the plate when Carson City Little League really needed the help,â€ Glenn said. â€œTheir time and consideration helped the kids immensely, saving us considerable time and money.”
Naylor said the students who assisted with the project walked away with a sense of making things better for the players in the league.
â€œWe are always happy to help out if we can,â€ Naylor said.