Meet a Fluid Power Scholarship Winner – Zoe Kulphongpatana

Programs like the Fluid Power Scholarships are made possible in part by the generous support of industry volunteers as well as NFPA Education and Technology Foundation and Pascal Society donors. Support these efforts by making a donation.

The NFPA Education and Technology Foundation has awarded nineteen $2,000 scholarships to students pursuing fluid power technology fields of study.

Here’s one of the winners, Zoe Kulphongpatana. Zoe is attending University of Kansas. We asked Zoe about winning the scholarship for the second year…

What class(es) did you take within the last year that expanded your understanding of fluid power?

Over the past year, I have explored several facets of fluid power and decided to pursue a degree in computer science. While exploring my interests in mechanical engineering during my first semester in college, I took several engineering seminars and introductory classes, including a programming class. While taking this class, I came to love the creative problem-solving and logical nature of programming and realized the endless possibilities that a background in coding can provide. After learning more about fluid power and further exploring programming outside of the classroom, I realized I could continue to pursue a career in the fluid power field even with a software background. So, I changed my major to computer science. This second semester, I am currently taking a programming class and a digital logic class. Both of these classes have allowed me to develop my critical thinking skills while learning programming languages like C++ and VHDL.

What other experiences have you had that have taught you about fluid power?

I have learned the most outside the classroom. I have sought out opportunities to apply my knowledge to real-world problems. I am currently working in a research lab where I have written programs that automate simulations, reducing over a semester of work to only a few weeks.

What are your future plans?

I hope to apply these experiences to my future career, where I will use my programming skills to solve problems relating to fluid power and make such processes more efficient and optimized. Ultimately, though the skills which I will contribute and the roles I will fill in the fluid power industry have changed, I believe that my problem-solving abilities, long-standing interest in the field, and drive for success, will allow me to positively contribute through my career.

Throughout the rest of my education, I will be primarily taking computer science courses in which I will obtain a greater understanding of computational abilities. I will also be taking several engineering electives of my choice. I plan to take engineering electives focused on fluid power to build upon my current knowledge and learn how to best apply my programming skills to the field. Additionally, I plan to get involved in undergraduate research directly related to fluid power, and have already looked into and reached out to professors of labs which I have found an interest in. I have also joined several professional development and engineering organizations, which I plan to continue my involvement in to build interpersonal and leadership skills that will allow me to succeed in all aspects of my career.

Upon my graduation, I will pursue a career as a software engineer in the fluid power industry, where I hope to continue to learn and gain knowledge and eventually move into management and leadership roles. Ultimately, this decision to change my major has allowed me to explore aspects of fluid power that I had never considered before, including how to optimize such processes at a software level. I believe this change will allow me to successfully contribute to the industry during my career.

The Foundation’s goal is to help individuals enrolled in technical colleges and universities pursue their interests in fluid power. The Fluid Power Scholarship application is available from January 2023 until early April 2023. Please share this opportunity within your network. Additionally, if you would like to serve on the application review committee, please contact Eric Pannell at epannell@nfpa.com.

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