Daniel J. Ravizza wanted to “stretch” himself for his senior project. The Pennsylvania College of Technology student recently met that noble goal by manufacturing a forging hammer, a machine that forms and shapes metal.
“It’s been in the back of my mind to do this for a number of years. Since I wasn’t working full time, I had the time to devote to this and try to do something more involved,” said Ravizza, of Honesdale. “It was a big challenge.”
Designing and building the 1,000-pound machine over three semesters fulfilled the requirements for Ravizza’s third Penn College degree. He’ll receive a Bachelor of Science in manufacturing engineering technology at Spring Commencement. In 2007, Ravizza earned associate degrees in automated manufacturing technology and toolmaking technology.
Ravizza used that extensive mechanical background and his own resourcefulness throughout the countless hours devoted to his senior project. The high cost of desired materials forced him to rely on junkyard supplies, secured for 50 cents per pound. The variable nature of the manufacturing process required him to alter his preliminary design, which was inspired by an older friend’s successful construction of a forging hammer.
“A lot of it was built on the fly,” said Ravizza, a member of Alpha Chi, a national honor society for baccalaureate students. “As I was working on it, some other thoughts came up, and the design changed as the project progressed.”
The result is an impressive industrial machine powered by an air compressor and featuring a 350-pound anvil base and a 90-pound hammerhead.
“Think of a blacksmith with a hand hammer and anvil, hammering out something. This is a machine that does the same thing,” Ravizza said. “Two dies close together to shape metal, just like a hand hammer and anvil. The nice thing is that it does it automatically and has a lot more power and is faster than doing it by hand. You can do larger work. You can do repeated work. It really saves time and energy.”
“Dan is very versatile,” said William J. Miller, associate professor of automated manufacturing and machining and Ravizza’s adviser throughout the project. “He’s been around so many processes. He’s worked in industry. He could have copped out of this and just pulled in something from his industry experience. But he was like, ‘This is the only chance I’ll get to do this.’”
Prior to returning to Penn College for his bachelor’s degree, Ravizza worked as a tool and die maker for Quality Perforating Inc. in Carbondale and as a toolmaker/machinist for MRI Prompton Tool in Honesdale.
“I came back because I thought the bachelor’s degree would be good for my career,” Ravizza said. “I wanted to do it before I got any older. It’s a great program and a really good degree to have. There are a lot of good jobs out there.”
The latest degree won’t be Ravizza’s last. He is scheduled to move to England in late summer and begin a Master of Fine Arts program at West Dean College, located in North Chichester, approximately 65 miles south of London. There, he will study conservation and restoration of metal works.
“I’ll be working on historic pieces of metal work, repairing and conserving them to keep them from deteriorating further,” he said. “I’ve been interested in old metal works for a long time.”
“I can’t wait to see what Dan will do with that master’s program,” Miller said. “He’s very meticulous and very hands-on. There are a lot of opportunities for him that have already opened up.”
Ravizza has made a name for himself working with historic locks and keys. On the side, he creates both based on styles of the past and restores those belonging to previous generations.
The lone drawback of Ravizza’s overseas excursion is that he will have to “mothball” his forging hammer in his parents’ garage for a few years.
“Someday, I’d like to get a shop set up and use the forging hammer,” said Ravizza, who expressed appreciation for Miller’s guidance and the assistance of Penn College’s welding department throughout his senior project. “It is a unique machine.”
As for his long-term career aspirations, Ravizza is hoping his graduate degree will lead to a career combining modern machining technology with traditional skills to provide restoration of historic objects. If that future fails to materialize, Ravizza knows he will still have a rewarding career thanks to his Penn College education.
“If the fine-arts stuff doesn’t work out, I can always get a job in industry anywhere,” he said with a smile.
For information about manufacturing engineering technology and other majors offered by the college’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.