By Eric Lanke
One of my recent trips took me to Portland, Oregon, where I was able to visit several NFPA members in the Pacific northwest.
One was Valin Corporation, a distributor of hydraulic, pneumatic and lubrication components for the fluid power, automation and motion control industries. Ken Harris was my gracious host, and we found ourselves talking about many trends in the fluid power industry, including the changing workforce needs in the distribution sector.
Valin, like many of our distributor members, is increasingly focusing on hiring bachelor-degreed engineers. It reflects the changing nature of the distribution business, which is moving away from pure distribution of parts and products, and moving toward the design, installation and service of complete systems. Ken has found that the difference in pay required to attract and retain this new talent more than makes up for the increase in knowledge and expertise that comes into his company.
One real issue, however, remains that lack of specific fluid power knowledge that many of these bachelor-degreed engineers have. Although NFPA has helped increase the amount of fluid power knowledgeable mechanical engineers that are coming out of schools like the University of Minnesota and the Georgia Institute of Technology—primarily through the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power—we’ve not yet been able to impact any of the schools out on the West Coast.
We are turning our attention in that direction, recognizing that members in all parts of the country need help in meeting their workforce challenges. We’re actively looking for members who are willing to help us grow our successful programs in new sections of the country. Hosting a Fluid Power Challenge for middle schools, supporting the Project Lead the Way fluid power curriculum in high schools, recruiting 2-year and 4-year colleges to apply for NFPA Foundation funding that supports fluid power research or curriculum development—these are all great ways to start reversing the trend.
In the Pacific northwest and everywhere else.
Chris is a Business Development Manager of Electrification for Parker Hannifin, a diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, providing precision-engineered solutions for a wide variety of commercial, mobile, industrial and aerospace markets. Parker Hannifin will be exhibiting several hydraulic-electric hybrid systems for implement control in mobile applications at IFPE – the International…
NFPA recently met with Matt Purdy, the Director of Career Services at Murray State University. In this webinar, we discussed several ways to get in contact with university students looking to join the fluid power industry. Although our conversation was specifically with Murray State, the information that was discussed can be applied to reaching students…
This fall, NFPA’s schedule of Regional Meetings again includes Cleveland, scheduled for Thursday, November 3. This year it will be held at Merwin’s Wharf in downtown Cleveland. NFPA Regional Meetings offer a chance to meet with other area fluid power professionals over dinner. NFPA members and non-members alike are welcome to attend and as with all other…