Michigan Students Experience Fluid Power at New Fast Track Hub

NFPA member company, Master Pneumatic, organized its sixth annual Fluid Power Action Challenge at Macomb Community College in Warren, MI. Since January 2022, nearly 250 middle school students from the Warren Consolidated School District’s Middle School Mathematics Science Technology Center prepared for this year’s STEM competition to create a machine that uses fluid power to lift and move objects.

After the machines were built, the students participated a competition in which they maneuvered cylinders from one spot to the next on a game board. The scenario was that the students had to pretend they were moving toxic materials from one place to another. Representatives from several local companies were present to answer questions.

“When kids engage with a learning activity, it can be of two kinds, it can be an activity where you follow instructions, and so basically somebody’s done it,” said Stephen Rogers, owner of Mechanical Kits Ltd. “The other type of instruction is where you give them a skill set, and then you give them a challenge.”

“It’s a good opportunity for math, problem solving and teamwork,” said Laura Thero, Associate Dean of Engineering Technology at Macomb. “It might spark their interest in something.”

A special thank you to the following sponsors and volunteers:

Sponsored a Team for $300

  • Aero Box
  • Alro Steel (and volunteers)
  • Fordsell Machine Products Co.
  • Hydraulic Parts Source 
  • Kodiak Controls, Inc.
  • Nichols
  • Peninsular Cylinder Co. (and volunteers)
  • Stanley Industries, Inc.

Special Donors ($500 or more)

  • NFPA
  • J.H. Bennett & Company, Inc.
  • Master Pneumatic (and volunteers)
  • Ross Controls (and volunteer)
  • SMC Corporation of America (and volunteers)
  • Yates Industries/Cylinders (and volunteers)

Other

  • Macomb Community College (Provided the event space with support staff, lunches and volunteers)
  • Mechanical Kits, Inc. (Advisory, assistance with custom kits and extras)
  • R. M. Wright Company (volunteers)
  • Shamrock Industries (discount on t-shirts)
  • Zatkoff (volunteer)

Master Pneumatic and Macomb’s partnership isn’t new, but NFPA’s Fast Track to Fluid Power partnership with Macomb is new this year. A Fast Track hub centers on a technical college with a validated fluid power degree program. Industry partners work with the college to provide ongoing curriculum guidance and student internship/job opportunities. Feeding into the college is a ring of local high schools, each equipped with fluid power lab equipment and curriculum. Piquing students’ interest before high school is a community-wide Fluid Power Action Challenge, engaging middle school students in learning about and having fun with fluid power. Industry partners serve as coaches/judges.

Macomb and NFPA are working together on a new Fluid Power Advisory Committee to support growth of their already strong program offerings. If you or a member of your company would like to participate, please contact Amy Zignego at (414) 778-3376 or azignego@nfpa.com.

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