University Students Get Hands-On Fluid Power Experience and Mentorship

Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge

Eric Lanke headshot 2017


By Eric Lanke
NFPA President/CEO


In April I was in Ames, Iowa serving as a competition judge for the NFPA Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge hosted by NFPA member and Pascal Society Gold-level donor, Danfoss, at their headquarters. The Vehicle Challenge is a workforce development program designed to support teams of undergraduate students as they develop a fluid powered vehicle without the use of chains or belts.

Ten universities participated this year (three more than last year) – California Polytechnic State University, Cleveland State University, Iowa State University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Murray State University, Purdue University, University of Akron, University of Cincinnati, West Virginia University Institute of Technology, and Western Michigan University.

Observing these teams showcase their projects reinforces the importance of NFPA’s workforce development programs, as this is often the only hands-on experience these students have with fluid power. Through the development of their projects, not only do they see first-hand the power and capability of fluid power, but they also connect with experienced engineers who volunteer as mentors to the students during the design process and ultimately serve as judges for the final competition.

I cannot stress strongly enough the value these few volunteer members receive by getting their companies and personnel engaged in this program. It is a chance for them to directly build a relationship with the incoming workforce.

We would like to see an increased level of participation from NFPA members with this program moving forward. Any company that is a Gold or Silver level donor in our Pascal Society is welcome to participate, since it is their donations that make the program possible.

Please contact me at or (414) 778-3351 to learn how to get your company engaged with the program starting fall of 2018.