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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, Michael Glochowsky. Michael is attending Triton College. We asked Michael 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?
This past year since I decided to exit high school early has been exciting and challenging. I have been able to achieve academic success beyond what my high school offered, and lead and participate in research and development for a project in the Rocket Club for a NASA competition. Triton has also given me the opportunity to take specialized engineering classes that aren’t offered at my local community college. The fluid power class I took during the fall semester of 2021 taught me the basics of fluid power, allowed me to work hands-on with pneumatics equipment, and helped me expand my design and build skills. My heightened design and build skills were especially useful in my work on the previously mentioned NASA MINDS project, which was a thruster that uses hydrogen peroxide as a propellant.
In my fluid power class, the theory side of pneumatics was mostly covered by the book. Principles, calculations, and simple fluid dynamics were expected to be learned by the student on their own. In class, however, a great focus was put on designing and building projects rather than lecture. We had to develop a project over the entire semester, and mine was a shirt launcher. The shirt launcher didn’t work as intended due to a faulty spring, but in the process, I created an effective pneumatic system. Throughout the entire class I also learned about fluid power circuits, valve types, piston types, and appropriate applications of pneumatic and hydraulic technologies. Unfortunately, hydraulic equipment was not available for usage in class, but its principles were covered.
What other experiences have you had that have taught you about fluid power?
In the NASA MINDS project, I was able to bring design and build skills that none of the other project members had. This project’s goal for the semester was to design and fabricate a thruster that would be propelled hydrogen peroxide decomposition. We couldn’t fabricate the team from last year’s design, so I created a revised version for fabrication. Then, Tech-Max, the company that fabricated the thruster for us, helped us to improve the design to take advantage of CNC technology. With their aid, we were able to get the thruster in-hand quickly. For this project I also designed the valve control’s electrical system. The next step of the project is to add our fast-acting valve, which just arrived, and do a run system test with hydrogen peroxide since our test with water was successful.
I have always been interested in working in energy and fuels, and the NASA MINDS I experienced what it would be like. The project has given me some confidence in my ability to perform in research and development, but I understand I have little experience in it and plan to work hard to continue to learn.
What are your future plans?
I was accepted to intern at Fermi Lab this summer, which will hopefully hone my skills even more. I am setting myself up to transfer in Spring of 2023 to continue my degree in Chemical Engineering, and, depending on the timing of everything, I may begin working in a chemical engineering/engineering role prior to completing college. I plan on continuing towards working in energy generation, storage, and utilization, all of which involve hydraulics or pneumatics and fluid power’s essential principles.
Another scholarship winner is Evan Bartlesen. Evan is attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is enrolled in the engineering program.
What does winning a Fluid Power Scholarship mean to you?
Winning this scholarship validates all of the efforts that I have put into my engineering education over the last 8 years of my life. Receiving this scholarship is an incredible honor and I am exceptionally grateful that this organization has recognized me and all my efforts. This scholarship is going to offer me substantial financial support throughout my first year after high school, lessening the financial burden that I will have following college.
Why did you choose to learn about fluid power?
Fluid power was introduced to me when I was in middle school. My teachers understood the importance of fluid power and the future it has in this world. He had our class participate in the Fluid Power Action Challenge where I learned basic fluid power concepts. I quickly learned its importance in the current world and future industries. I knew that if I understood fluid power I could set myself ahead of my peers. I also can see its value and the role it will play in my studies and future career.
What are your career aspirations? What type of fluid power job do you hope to get after you graduate?
After I graduate, I plan to work as an electrical engineer. One day I hope to pioneer a new and improved mechanism that will help to revolutionize the efficiency in fluid power systems with the goal of merging electrical engineering with what would traditionally be a mechanical engineering system.
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