Fluid Power Journal

NFPA Hosts Annual Competition in Wisconsin

More than 200 Waukesha, Wis., middle school students will participate in March in the fifth annual Fluid Power Action Challenge competition. 

Teams of students compete to solve an engineering problem by designing and building a fluid power mechanism in three hours. The teams then use their creation to pick up an item on a platform, rotate the mechanism, then place the item on another platform. The team has two minutes to complete this task.

The students’ mechanisms are evaluated and awarded in five categories: Overall Champion, Design Champion, Teamwork Champion, Portfolio Champion and Team Challenge Champion. 

The competition actually began Feb. 7, when the competing students were introduced to fluid power technology at a workshop. The students learned about hydraulics and pneumatics and their real-world applications. After the workshop, the students began working independently on the competition design and portfolio to be used in the competition evaluation in March. Fluid power engineers visit the teams at their schools during their projects to answer questions and offer further support.  

The Action Challenge, scheduled for March 13 at 1 p.m. at the Waukesha County Technical College Gymnasium, is part of a larger education pathway that the National Fluid Power Association debuted in Waukesha last year, the Fast Track to Fluid Power. The program creates strong connections between local technical colleges, industry partners and teachers in the community. Price Engineering launched the event with nine teams five years ago.

This program recently brought fluid power training equipment to Waukesha County high schools and provided teachers with training. Students who want to learn more about fluid power can enroll in classes such as principles of engineering, automation and systems and controls. With the support of local fluid power companies, Waukesha County Technical College had their fluid power curriculum validated by the industry. Local engineers mentor students, help them learn the basics, and recruit for internships and full-time positions. Industry representatives engaged in this program are from FORCE America, Husco International, Poclain Hydraulics, Price Engineering and SunSource.  

A goal of these programs is to provide resources to teachers for science and technology curriculum, create a learning environment in which 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.

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