NFPA’s FAMTEN Program Builds a Pathway for Students into Fluid Power Careers
The National Fluid Power Association’s Fluid Power and Applied Mechatronics Training and Employment Network (FAMTEN) is a new fluid power workforce development pathway that creates strong connections between local technical colleges, industry partners, and high school teachers. NFPA’s first FAMTEN Hub School, Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) in Waukesha, Wisconsin, was chosen in 2018, and several area high schools have already begun implementing new fluid power curriculum with the help of industry mentors.
The program, which will expand to Triton College in River Grove, Illinois in 2019, is designed to cover multiple education levels within the chosen community:
1. A community-wide Fluid Power Action Challenge event is the first step in the pathway. The Action Challenge serves as an introduction to fluid power and is a competition that challenges middle school students to solve an engineering problem using fluid power. In Waukesha, WCTC and Price Engineering host an Action Challenge event every year at WCTC.
2. The second step in the pathway includes equipping local high schools with fluid power training equipment, which happened at eight high schools in Waukesha county in 2018. The high school teachers from these schools were trained over the summer on how to teach students about fluid power with the new equipment thanks to the support of NFPA members, Festo and Amatrol. Two of these high schools have already started using the new training platforms in their classes.
3. Third is the Hub School, a local technical school with a validated fluid power curriculum. WCTC already has an outstanding fluid power program, and several fluid power companies serve on their advisory board.
Extremely important to all steps in the pathway is the local network of industry partners connecting with teachers and students. FAMTEN would not be successful without industry mentors getting students interested, helping them learn the basics, and eventually recruiting them when they graduate.
“If we want to attract more of the best and brightest minds to the fluid power industry, we need to build awareness with students at an early age,” said Bill Haley, a Business Development Analyst at FORCE America. “It’s been really rewarding being involved with FAMTEN and working with the exceptional students and teachers in our local school districts. Interacting with them while they use the new fluid power training equipment (provided by FAMTEN), I’ve been able to tie what they’ve learned to practical applications like factory automation or an excavator. I’m confident that students in FAMTEN schools will be much more likely to consider careers in fluid power.”
Many thanks to NFPA members FORCE America, HUSCO, Poclain, Price Engineering, and SunSource for visiting local classrooms, talking to students and teachers about fluid power careers, and establishing a direct connection to their future workforce in Waukesha.