by Eric Lanke
Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the third Fluid Power Innovation and Research Conference (FPIRC) in Minneapolis, MN. I was joined there by more than 170 other professionals, including 14 academic faculty, 110 industry members, and 38 university students.
It was a phenomenal conference. FPIRC is co-sponsored by NFPA and the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power, and our goal is to grow it into the premier conference for fluid power industry and academic research in North America. The event in Minneapolis took a major step forward in this direction, connecting industry to university resources and talent through technical sessions, networking opportunities, laboratory tours, and panel discussions.
The presentations were great. They showcased not only the pre-competitive research projects that our industry is funding through our Foundation’s Pascal Society, but also included numerous technical presentations from industry, highlighting the application of those and other new research directions. Most of the presentation slides can be downloaded from the FPIRC website at: http://nfpahub.com/events/conferences/fpirc/program/.
But the highlight for me and many others was the networking. The student poster session on one of the evenings broke all kinds of records in this regard, with industry, academia and students meeting in one venue to discuss the technologies and workforce skills needed to continue growing the fluid power industry. Another favorite activity was the reception, dinner and tour we all had at the U.S. Bank Stadium, the new home of the Minnesota Vikings. Upon learning that some of the giant glass walls of the stadium used hydraulic power to open and let fresh air into that remarkable space, several of the industry members I was with immediately began identifying and speculating on the manufacturers of the hydraulic components that had been built into that system.
Whether it was the advancing technologies that were presented, or just the fresh, young faces on the student presenters themselves, the whole conference left me with the clear sense that our industry is succeeding in building a bright future for itself.
All industry members are invited to participate in FPIRC and several related activities that are helping to grow these important connections. The next big event will be an industry/university summit that we’re beginning to plan for the spring of 2017. Please stay tuned for more detailed announcements on that event.