Celebrating Mentoring Month – NFPA Members Are Making a Difference

The Vehicle Challenge is an undergraduate program that requires engineering students to redesign a traditional bicycle using hydraulics as power transmission and compete for cash prizes in four separate races – sprint, efficiency, regen, and endurance. Students experience real world engineering under strict deadlines for designing, building, testing and demonstrating their designs. NFPA Pascal Society Donors and industry professionals serve as mentors and judges to guide the students in their learning.

One of the keys to the success of the Vehicle Challenge Program is the support provided to each team by their industry mentor. This year, the twenty-three teams will meet with their mentors remotely or in-person at least four times throughout the school year. From help with sizing motors and pumps and understanding the benefits and drawbacks of various hose fitting options to focusing in on the fundamental hydraulic circuit, the expertise of industry mentors is instrumental in preparing students for fluid power careers.

So far, the mentors provided more than technical expertise. They encouraged students to think of innovative solutions, coached them on presentation skills, and reminded them of the real-world supply chain problems. Here is what some of the teams participating in the Vehicle Challenge have said about their mentors:

NFPA programs rely on industry representatives to coach students and share their experience in fluid power so they can better understand educational paths and career options that are available in the industry. To close out the spring semester, we are looking for NFPA members to speak to university classrooms on fluid power and automation, and we are also beginning to connect members with high school robotics teams as we encourage them to use pneumatics in the upcoming FIRST Robotics, VEX, and National Robotics League competitions. Contact Stephanie at sscaccianoce@nfpa.com for more information or to get involved.

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