The term “outreach” isn’t typically associated with our professional lives. When I think of outreach, I think of church or a volunteer organization. There are plenty of opportunities and organizations to choose from; just throw a stone in any direction and you’ll hit a target.
As a member of IFPS’s Chapter 49 & 50 in my seventh year, I’m proud to have been a part of outreach in a way I never imagined as a fluid power professional. If your chapter is looking for ways to benefit your local community, you’re in luck, as our chapter has done this for years. This is how it started.
If you’ve ever been to a local chapter meeting, chances are you’ve met a fluid power vendor (or are one) and that vendor’s (or your – eek!) competitor. That can be a tricky scenario to navigate for everyone involved.
Our solution to that issue came in the form of a high school student. Our chapter treasurer, Ryan Remmers, had a son who was involved in FIRST, a robotics competition. The goal at the high school level is to build a robot within certain specifications and pilot it remotely, coordinating tasks with other teams while trying to outscore opponents. I highly recommend checking out www.usfirst.org for ways to volunteer anywhere in the world.
The budget for a team’s competition season can be as much as $20,000 or more. Teams fundraise with activities such as car washes and bake sales. As we were discussing upcoming chapter meeting topics, Ryan suggested the chapter donate funds to local FIRST teams that were in need.
This was terrific, as it instantly hit several points for a chapter’s existence:
- Users of fluid power + competitors + small meeting room = potential hornet’s nest!
- Outreach provides a reason for a chapter to exist and a task that everyone, regardless of professional position, can focus on and give to equally.
- Big key: With outreach, you can influence your community within your profession and pass along skills to kids. How cool is that?
We invited three FIRST teams to our November 2007 meeting and asked them to make a presentation. Each team told us about “Gracious Professionalism” (see the website for more information), details of last year’s robot, different jobs and their requirements (programmers, pilots, mechanical designers), and all about team spirit. It was a blast to see the enthusiasm about robotics and in our case, fluid power. Teams are usually allowed an air compressor and a reason to use an actuator, an example being shooting a basketball at a hoop.
We ended up giving away more than $3,000 that night! After the teams left our meeting, we were all in shock as to how much fun this event was. We’ve done this every year since and have donated more than $18,000 total.
Please contact me with any questions. Everyone associated with our chapter would tell you that outreach is worth your time. Imagine finding an opportunity to help your community via your profession…it’s right in front of you.
By Scott Gower, CFPS, IFPS Chapter 49 & 50 – Treasurer, Past President (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As president of the International Fluid Power Society this year, I have had the pleasure of attending a large number of trade shows and national meetings, completed many local customer calls, and heard the same dialogue being repeated: “We need skilled people.” I don’t care if it’s at the salesman level, engineering disciplines, trades, whatever. It’s the same mantra.
Why is that? Well, I hear many reasons for this, but one does seem to be in the majority. Colleges and universities are not producing qualified candidates with exposure to fluid power. I can attest to the fact that I have talked to many good, young engineers just leaving school and they admit there are little or no fluid power classes, much less fully focused degree programs in this area.
Wow! Nature seems to have run amuck here. We are taught early and often that nature always tries to fill a vacuum. Well, if that and the laws of supply and demand are truly correct, we should be flooded with young people running to our companies and fighting to get into our profession. Are the money and benefits not right? Is the work too hard and dirty? I think not. Check out the May/June issue of Fluid Power Journal and read the results of our recent salary survey. We take pretty good care of our people, from what I’ve read there. (By the way, isn’t the Journal looking great these days? Super congrats to the staff at IDP!)
The problem, I believe, is exposure.
These young people live in a world where fluid power is everywhere. The applications for it are growing—not shrinking—but nobody seems to be pointing that out. We don’t personally have to tell the world of this fact. All we have to do, individually, is talk it up to our own sphere of influence.
This is my call to action for us all. Make an appointment with your local high school or middle school guidance office. Volunteer to give a talk at a career day function or similar. Let them know our chosen field of work is vibrant and strong, and that we need new recruits.
The Society is well on its way of completing our Boy Scout Merit Badge project and feel this will be an awesome way to educate young folks about fluid power.
Check out the May/June issue of the Journal and read the article about Alfred State College. These students are getting certified and securing jobs. Has a nice ring to it in today’s job market, doesn’t it?
Again, I challenge you, get in the game. We need you! Who is a better advocate for this great career area? Those of us already in it! Spread the word…Fluid Power Rocks!
By Mark Perry, CFPHS, Fitzsimmons Hydraulics, 2013 IFPS President and Chairperson
How safe are my employees? How efficient and reliable are my systems? What is my competitive advantage? Am I certifiable; are my employees? These are questions every leader asks. Well maybe not that last question in the literal sense, but you should consider it in the professional sense, by asking is IFPS certification right for you and your employees?
In a competitive market, success depends on persuading potential customers that your company can do a job better and more cost effectively than anyone else. You have plenty of experience, good references, and a solid reputation, but there’s only one way to make sure customers know you are among the finest in our industry: IFPS certification. The IFPS is the only organization that provides comprehensive technical certification offerings for all professionals in the fluid power and motion control industry. Fluid power distributors, manufacturers, and end-users rely on the IFPS for comprehensive educational and training offerings to create a safer, more efficient workforce.
IFPS certification is your competitive advantage. It assures your customers that you and your employees have not only mastered the appropriate skills and tools, but also made a commitment to professionalism and safety. And because the IFPS certifies thousands of fluid power professionals each year and serves as the industry standard for assessing the knowledge and skill level of your employees, IFPS certification confers instant credibility on your company. Certification reflects your dedication to the highest standards in the fluid power industry. In short, when customers choose to work with IFPS-certified individuals, they’re assured of improved safety, improved reliability, greater efficiency, reduced liability, and decreased environmental impact.
Because fluid power certification requires an investment of time and resources, it’s fair to ask if that investment is worthwhile. Every company has different objectives and different needs, but the fact is that potential customers increasingly are looking to fluid power certification as a guarantee not just of technical proficiency, but also of professionalism. By encouraging your employees to seek certification, or seeking the certification yourself, you are making a significant investment in your company and you are telling your customers, as well as potential customers, that you hold your company and your employees to the highest standards. Thus, fluid power certification can be used as an effective tool for sales and recruiting.
For fluid power distributors, manufacturers, and end-users, certification will do the following:
- Provide a benchmark for assessing new employees, enabling you to employ the most talented workforce
- Offer increased credibility
- Create a highly skilled workforce
- Improve safety
- Improve reliability
- Create greater efficiency
- Reduce liability
- Decrease environmental impact
Whether your employees are engineers, designers, specialists, technicians, or mechanics, IFPS has a certification program that will meet your company’s specific needs. Please take a moment to call or visit the IFPS website at www.ifps.org to determine which program is the best for you!
By Donna Pollander, IFPS Executive Director