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Contributor: National Fluid Power Association
The event will take place at Waukesha County Expo Center and will feature a competition that requires middle school students to solve an engineering problem using fluid power.
Families and community members are invited to attend the Fluid Power Action Challenge competition March 13th, 2019 at 1:00 PM at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC), Gymnasium; Building S.
Five years ago, Price Engineering launched this event in Waukesha County with nine teams. This year, over 200 local middle school students will work to design and build a fluid power mechanism in three hours before competing against each other in a timed event. The goal is to see how many objects each team’s fluid power mechanism can pick up from one platform, rotate, and place on another platform in a two-minute period.
Local organizations supporting this event are, Eaton, FORCE America, Husco, NFPA, Price Engineering and Waukesha County Technical College, many of which are providing teams of engineers to evaluate the students’ mechanisms and present awards in five categories – Overall Champion, Design Champion, Teamwork Champion, Portfolio Champion and Team Challenge Champion.
The competing students are first introduced to fluid power technology at a workshop hosted by engineers on February 7th. There, they will learn about hydraulics, pneumatics and their real world applications. After the workshop, the students begin working independently to complete a competition design and portfolio which will also be used as part of the competition evaluation. The fluid power engineers will be visiting the teams at their schools for mid-project check in to answer questions and offer further support.
The Action Challenge is also part of a larger education pathway that the National Fluid Power Association debuted in Waukesha last year, the Fast Track to Fluid Power. This program creates strong connections between local technical colleges, industry partners and teachers by engaging multiple education levels in the community, beginning with the Fluid Power Action Challenge for middle school students.
This program recently brought fluid power training equipment to many Waukesha County high schools and provided teachers with training on how to teach using this equipment. In this way, students who want to continue to learn more about fluid power can choose to enroll in classes in high school such as principles of engineering, automation and systems and controls. Finally, with the support of local fluid power companies, WCTC has had their fluid power curriculum validated to fit the needs of the industry. A local network of engineers mentor the students, help them learn the basics, and have already began to recruit them for internships and full time positions. Industry representatives engaged in this program are from FORCE America, Husco International, Poclain Hydraulics, Price Engineering and SunSource.
The goal of these programs is to provide resources to teachers for science and technology curriculum, create a learning environment where math and science are fun and encourage students to practice teamwork and problem-solving skills while introducing them to careers in the fluid power industry.
About the NFPA
NFPA is a trade association focused on strengthening the hydraulics and pneumatics industry. With more than 340 fluid power manufacturers, distributors and suppliers in its membership, NFPA works to advance fluid power education, technology and the industry as a whole.