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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:
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)