Influence the Future of Fluid Power

Annual Report Series

Message from the President/CEOBuild Your Network & Learn with Others in the Industry | Chart Your Course with Market Insights | Reach More Customers While Keeping up with Trends | Influence the Future of Fluid Power

NFPA members consistently rank workforce development as the most challenging issue their companies face. This is likely because not enough technical colleges and universities are teaching fluid power to their students.

As a result, NFPA has identified growing the fluid power workforce as one of its primary strategic priorities. It is central to its mission of strengthening the fluid power industry. NFPA seeks to increase the number of educated technicians and engineers embarking on careers in fluid power.

The NFPA Education and Technology Foundation is a tax-exempt, charitable organization, affiliated with NFPA, that is dedicated to meeting this workforce development need. Through the generous support of our donors, programs like the ones covered in this section of the report are helping to change the talent pool available to our industry. More young people are aware of the fluid power industry. More 2-year technical college and 4-year university graduates have specific training in fluid power. More universities have research facilities and education programs focused on fluid power. And more partnerships between these schools and our industry are increasing access to highly talented candidates.

Many thanks to the donors who help make our fluid power workforce development programs happen. Learn more about these efforts and donate to help support them at


Enabling Fluid Power Training at Multiple Grade Levels

Bringing Fluid Power Materials to Classrooms

CAT & JJC Fluid Power Action ChallengeThe NFPA Fluid Power Action Challenge is a STEM competition designed to introduce science and engineering concepts to middle school students in a fun and exciting environment. Students begin by learning about the basics of hydraulics and pneumatics before working in teams as they experiment and design their own unique machine and compete against their peers at a timed event. Action Challenges were difficult to present in their traditional form this year due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic forcing school districts to quickly adjust to a virtual learning format, but despite the roadblocks, over 15 schools across the country hosted in-house challenges and worked diligently to provide their students with hands-on fluid power education. Some in-person challenges are currently being scheduled for fall of 2021.


Fast Track to Fluid Power is a workforce development pathway that partners local technical colleges with industry partners and high school teachers. This network will create awareness and interest in fluid power and train students along a path that leads to careers in fluid power at NFPA member companies.

Currently there are two Fast Track Communities, one in Waukesha, Wisconsin at WCTC Technical College and one in River Grove, Illinois at Triton College. There are 13 local NFPA member companies involved in these programs as mentors/judges. COVID-19 sidelined fluid power hands-on training in the high schools this year, but NFPA mentors have virtually presented to classes and we are on track to start strong again in fall.


Supporting Students and Faculty

NFPA offers a $500 Action Challenge Grant, which middle and high schools can apply for annually, to host or attend an Action Challenge event and/or purchase fluid power kits for the classroom or for home use. Twenty-nine grants with a combined worth of more than $12,000 have been given to middle and high schools during the 2019-2020 fiscal year to facilitate fluid power education. Nearly 1,300 students benefitted from these grants, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. NFPA worked closely with education partners throughout the country to help facilitate fluid power education in a safe and impactful way to ensure that students were able to learn and experiment with hydraulics, even from the safety of their own homes. Of the 29 grants, over 10 of them went to schools that applied for the first time.

The NFPA Education and Technology Foundation is also committed to supporting fluid power education and programs across the country at the university level. While NFPA has awarded various grants over the years, the University Fluid Power Grant program is specifically designed to provide funding for faculty to implement new and/or add more fluid power courses and content to their undergraduate agricultural, mechanical engineering and engineering technology degree programs.

NFPA awarded the following schools the University Fluid Power Grant in 2020:

  • Michigan Technological University
  • Ohio University
  • South Dakota State University


fluid power scholarshipsTo help students successfully pursue fluid power education programs, NFPA provides scholarships to students at multiple grade levels as well.

For graduating high schoolers who participated in a FIRST® Robotics or NRL Competition Team and used fluid power on their robot NFPA offers a Robotics Challenge Scholarship. In 2020, we received 87 applications. The merit-based scholarship for $40,000 ($10,000 per year for four years) may be used to study engineering at any accredited technical college or university in the United States. The goal of this scholarship is to bring awareness of fluid power options in robotics to high school students and increase the use of fluid power products in these competitions.

In 2020, 1,045 FIRST Robotics teams used pneumatics out of 2,008 teams reporting data, for a total of approximately 52%. Because final competitions were canceled due to COVID-19, the number of teams reporting data decreased from the previous year.


NFPA also offers $2,000 Fluid Power Scholarships to help students enrolled in technical colleges and universities across the country each year. In 2020, NFPA awarded scholarships to fourteen students. NFPA also works to connect these scholarship winners to NFPA members when they are seeking internships, co-op placements or full-time positions.


Connecting Universities with Industry

NFPA’s Speaker Bureau program is designed to bring industry professionals directly into university classrooms to speak to students about opportunities within the industry. Making an impact is easy. A draft presentation template is available to help NFPA members effectively talk about personal job experience, their companies, and the many exciting careers currently available—what industries they’re in, what they pay, and the markets they serve.

Despite COVID-19 challenges that schools faced last year, industry members continued to connect with students through virtual presentations:

School Company Date
FPVC Presentations Danfoss 10/8/2020
Milwaukee School of Engineering SMC Corporation of America 10/19/2020
Purdue University Northwest Daman Products Company 10/19/2020
FPVC Presentations Norgren 10/22/2020
University of Cincinnati Eaton Corporation 10/23/2020
Ohio University Parker Hannifin 10/23/2021
West Virginia University Institute of Technology GPM Controls 10/28/2020
FPVC Presentations Iowa Fluid Power 10/29/2020
Milwaukee School of Engineering Husco 11/30/2020
Northern Illinois University Parker Hannifin 1/22/2021
Iowa State University HydraForce 2/9/2021
University of Alabama Birmingham FORCE America 2/16/2021
Milwaukee School of Engineering Milwaukee Cylinder 3/22/2021
Northern Illinois University Delta Computer Systems 3/29/2021
Purdue University Applied Industrial Technologies 3/30/2021
University of Cincinnati Caterpillar 3/31/2021
West Virginia University Institute of Technology Bosch Rexroth 4/5/21 & 4/6/21


The Fluid Power Club program was designed to help university students learn about fluid power while they work on educational and technical projects as well as get connected to NFPA members to learn about career opportunities in fluid power.

Now in its second year, Fluid Power Clubs have been established at 13 universities so far. NFPA supports these schools in their efforts to organize fluid power study groups and social events, resume-building workshops, and we work with them to invite industry professionals to speak or provide them with guidance on their independent fluid power projects. Some projects include building a hydrostatic go-cart, creating t-shirts as well as building a pneumatic t-shirt cannon to promote their club on campus during sporting events, and arranging for NFPA members to speak to other students in relevant fluid power courses about career paths into the industry and specific technology interests they have.

Participating Schools
Cleveland State University
Iowa State University
Milwaukee School of Engineering
Murray State University
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Northern Illinois University
Ohio University
Purdue University
Purdue University Northwest
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Cincinnati
West Virginia University Tech
Western Michigan University


The 5th annual NFPA Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge took place in April 2021 in a virtual format. Two final competition events were held this cycle, ensuring that more students and universities could participate, and more NFPA Foundation donors could connect with these students. The first event was hosted by Norgren and the other event took place the following week, hosted by Danfoss Power Solutions. Designed to increase the number of university students learning about and getting hands-on experience with fluid power, this competition tasks teams with redesigning a traditional bicycle using hydraulics as the mode of power transmission. Between both events, 15 universities and 100 students participated and representatives from 24 NFPA member companies served as judges, mentors, or sponsors and through their engagement in the program, receive exclusive opportunities to recruit these students.

Participating Schools
Cal Poly State University
Cleveland State University
Iowa State University
Kennesaw State University
Michigan Technological University
Milwaukee School of Engineering
Murray State University
Northern Illinois University
Purdue University
Purdue University Northwest
South Dakota State University
University of Akron
University of Cincinnati
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
University of Utah
West Virginia University Institute of Technology
Western Michigan University


The NFPA University Power Partner Program is an annual recognition program designed to showcase one university per year that actively participates in all of the university-level NFPA fluid power educational programs listed above. The major objective for this program is to increase the amount of fluid power being taught at the university and to enhance student to industry connection.

In recognition of the inaugural University Power Partner, in September 2020, NFPA and Purdue University hosted a virtual Meet the Students/Industry Connection Event. Students enrolled in Purdue University’s Mechanical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering degree programs were invited to participate to learn about the fluid power supply chain and career opportunities presented by NFPA member companies. Ten NFPA member companies participated as industry panelists to discuss what their companies do, specific fluid power technologies, and opportunities for internships and jobs.


Other Opportunities to Get Involved

To serve as a resource for NFPA members that are hiring for various manufacturing jobs, NFPA has continued its partnership with The Manufacturing Institute in support of the Heroes MAKE America (HMA) program. The HMA program offers industry training designed to help our nation’s service members transition into manufacturing careers. NFPA members have access to HMA participants because of NFPA’s financial support as an association sponsor. There are multiple ways for NFPA members to take advantage of this partnership, such as access to HMA participant resumes and by participating in a “Manufacturing 101” panel to discuss career opportunities in the fluid power industry and at your specific company.


Funding for workforce development programs such as these are made possible in thanks to NFPA’s Pascal Society donors who provide critical program funding each year. As a donor to the Pascal Society, members not only have the opportunity to support the future industry workforce, but also have additional opportunities to get engaged through the Pascal Society Council. The purpose of Pascal Society Council is to make Pascal donors aware of the opportunities they have to get involved with NFPA’s workforce programs and to get them engaged and connected to students, of all grade levels, who may be interested in fluid power careers. It is the place to go to learn about and shape these opportunities by offering ideas that NFPA can use to make it easier and more beneficial for Pascal donors to get involved. The members exchange ideas on how their companies have become connected to schools in their community.

Quarterly conference calls and webinars are held and in between those calls a quarterly newsletter will be sent to keep Pascal donors updated on ways to get engaged. In our inaugural year of the Council, 28 individuals from 24 member companies took part and contributed to spreading the word about NFPA workforce programs.

Make the Most of Your Membership

  1. Attend an event to connect with industry leaders
    Visit to learn more about upcoming connection opportunities.

  2. Join a committee to impact the future of the industry
    Visit to learn more about association governance, standards development, and other engagement opportunities.

  3. Use exclusive market information to make better business decisions
    Visit to learn more about and access reports and data available to NFPA members.

  4. Take advantage of tools to uncover data insights
    Visit to learn more about and access the NFPA Stats Toolkit.

  5. Reach customers and promote the industry as a whole
    Visit to learn more about upcoming trade show opportunities and to find fluid power industry information to share with your customers.

  6. Help build the future workforce
    Visit to learn more about and make a donation to support our latest workforce development programs.

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