Fast Track in Illinois Continues Fluid Power Activities

Programs like the Fast Track to Fluid Power and the Fluid Power Action Challenge are made possible in part by the generous support of industry volunteers as well as NFPA Education and Technology Foundation and Pascal Society donors

Despite the ongoing challenges that COVID-19 restrictions have imposed on the educational front, NFPA members and educator partners in Illinois continue to stay engaged in NFPA’s Fast Track to Fluid Power program.

NFPA’s Illinois Fast Track hub is located at Triton College where fluid power is taught within the following 2-year programs:

  • Engineering Technology Design Certificate
  • Engineering Technology/Mechanical Design Degree
  • Engineering Technology/Mechatronics Degree
  • Engineering Technology/Mechatronics Certificate

To support the fluid power pathway in Illinois, NFPA has been working with local middle and high schools that feed into Triton College to get students interested and excited and fluid power technology and careers.

One of the feeder schools, J. Giles Elementary School held a Fluid Power Action Challenge at Ridgewood Community High School in Norridge, IL on March 17, 2022. In total, 113 middle school students making up 28 teams participated in the Workshop Day and Challenge Day competition. NFPA industry representatives volunteered as judges.

A special thank you to Dave Price and Erick Garza from HydraForce and Rogelio Gandarilla from QCC for volunteering. Another special thank you to Antigone Sharris from Triton College, Eric Lasky from Ridgewood Community High School and Joe Lentino from J. Giles Elementary School for working with the students and organizing the event.

Erick Garza of HydraForce talking to students about their fluid power machines.

Regarding serving as a judge for the Fluid Power Action Challenge:

“It truly was a heart-warming experience interacting with the future leaders of this industry, whom are driven by an abundant imagination and talent.”  –  Erick Garza, Application Engineer, HydraForce, Inc.

“I had a great experience judging the FPAC!  It’s great to see so many bright and intelligent young people expressing an interest in the industry, and it was great to share experience and insight with the next generation of Fluid Power professionals.” – Dave Price, Global Marketing Manager, HydraForce, Inc.

“Being a judge for the FPAC competition was very rewarding.  Many of the young participants were very talented and showed amazing design and construction creativity, teamwork, and project management skills.  I saw in many… a young, raw, spark in their eyes.” –Rogelio Gandarilla, Product Engineer Manager, QCC

Rogelio Gandarilla from QCC talking to students about their fluid power machines.

Days following the event, the teachers organized a Parent Showcase Night to announce the competition winners. Rogelio Gandarilla from QCC attended and spoke to students and parents about the different career pathways that students interested in fluid power can follow. Rogelio graduated from Ridgewood High School and was able to speak about his personal experience getting involved with hands-on learning opportunities and ultimately securing an internship, later turned full-time job and career, at QCC. Real life examples of individual experiences in the industry are the best way to show students how it can be done.

On April 16, 2022, Antigone Sharris of Triton College organized a mini Fluid Power Action Challenge at Conant High School in Hoffman Estates, IL. In total, 50 students participated in the event gaining exposure to fluid power technology.

Students at Conant High School working on their fluid power machines.

If you would like to get involved in NFPA’s Fast Track to Fluid Power program, please contact Amy Zignego at or (414) 778-3376.

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