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VGCC Students Examine High Tech Imaging

Students and instructors in Vance-Granville Community College’s Industrial Systems Technology, Electrical/Electronics Technology and Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Technology programs got a chance to see the latest in thermal imaging technology in August. Scott Cagle, a sales engineer from Newco, Inc. and Max Way, a sales representative from C.C. Dickson Co. (based out of Henderson and Burlington), visited the college’s main campus to demonstrate the Ti-55 thermal imager, a product manufactured by the Fluke Corporation. They walked around to different part of the campus, seeing buildings and heating/air conditioning units in a whole new light.Wesley E. Smith, head of the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration program, emphasized that the device could detect loss of heat in homes or other buildings, which is especially important in a time when energy conservation and efficiency is a top concern. Industrial Systems Technology program head Robert Hudson noted that thermal imaging could find malfunctioning bearings and belts in machinery and automotive engines. Naturally, Leon Dillard, as head of the Electrical/Electronics program, was interested in how the technology can examine how well circuitry is working.All three said that a key advantage of the equipment is that it can detect electrical and mechanical problems before they reach a critical stage — often called “predictive maintenance.” Using such technology saves time and labor for those maintaining facilities. Hudson pointed at a campus lamp-post to offer an example. “If you don’t have thermal imaging equipment, to check out the lamp-post, you’ve got to climb up to the top, take the top off and examine it, and there might be nothing wrong with it,” Hudson explained. “But with this device, I can stand on the ground and look at it on this screen, quickly and easily.”Thermography, or thermal imaging, is a type of infrared imaging. Thermographic cameras detect radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum and produce images of that radiation. The amount of radiation emitted by an object increases with temperature. When viewed by thermographic camera, warm objects stand out well against cooler backgrounds; humans and other warm-blooded animals become easily visible against the environment, day or night. As a result, thermography was first extensively developed by the military. Thermal imaging technology has applications in other VGCC programs, such as Automotive Systems and Criminal Justice, and is also used by firefighters.Above: From left, Scott Cagle of Newco, Inc. shows a thermal image to VGCC Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Technology program head Wesley Smith and to Larry Harris, one of Smith’s students.