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EAMS and NFPA Fluid Power Action Challenge

Industry engagement in career and technical education (CTE) programs not only prepares students with necessary skills and pathways for rewarding careers, but it also provides the companies a direct pipeline of well-prepared talent to fill workforce shortages. Precision Plus believes in building strong partnerships with area education institutions – at all levels.

On November 11th, the annual NFPA Fluid Power Action Challenge at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) hosted 26 teams of students from six southeastern Wisconsin middle schools. During the challenge, the 7th and 8th grade students worked hard to design and build fluid power mechanisms that pick an object from one platform, rotate, and place it on another. The competition is designed to get younger students excited about fluid power and develop their STEM skills in a fun way. You can witness all 26 teams in action, here in MSOE’s video: https://vimeo.com/377671079

Precision Plus Manufacturing Engineer Paul McDonough had the privilege of participating in the event as a judge. McDonough says he witnessed “a lot of excitement, mixed in with a little anxiety, as teams hustled to finish their prototypes.”

He admits that even experienced engineers would be hard pressed to complete the task in the allotted time, especially considering an early season snowstorm that caused a late start for the participants. McDonough said he witnessed many different and innovative approaches during the challenge. He was “quite impressed by how well these young individuals came together with all members contributing in the true spirit of teamwork.”

William Sanchez, who acts as Precision Plus’s liaison for school tours and outreach programs, says the primary goal of this event isn’t just to test the students’ engineering skills in fluid power, but it also tests their skills in areas such as teamwork and public speaking.

Sanchez said the students spent anywhere from 30 to 40 hours preparing for this event. Prior to the competition, teams attended a workshop event where they learned about fluid power by building a pneumatic device. They were graded in four areas: teamwork, portfolio, speaking, and the actual building and designing of their devices. One team from Elkhorn Area Middle School (EAMS), consisting of Luke Dupont, Luke Degraer, and Logan Weitzel, was awarded the 2019 Teamwork Award.

Eryca Card, Project Lead The Way coordinator at EAMS, contacted Sanchez shortly after the competition to schedule a tour at Precision Plus. She thought it would be a great way to show the students that continuing on the CTE and STEM path can lead to a rewarding career in advanced manufacturing.

On December 4th, Card and her students had a front row seat to learn more about our industry and see how fluid power is used in real life. The group felt “inspired” and “empowered,” according to Card. Not only were they awestruck with the technology, she continued, “Our students…were certainly shown an example of how to behave and treat others when they eventually enter the working world,” stating each employee took the time to give their full attention to these students.

After the tour, the students stayed for a pizza party, as we celebrated their success at the Fluid Power competition. Card and her students let us know how impressed they were with the “professionalism and passion” of the Precision Plus team members.

We look forward to partnering again with EAMS on events like these, as well as being part of MSOE events that continue to encourage middle school students to select more math and science courses in their high school careers and beyond. The burden of our success is dependent upon industry and education working together.

For more information about the NFPA Fluid Power Action Challenge, please visit: https://nfpahub.com/fpc/.

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