By Eric Lanke
Each summer, the CCEFP hosts about 20 young engineers from across the country in their Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. The program is essentially a paid summer research internship, designed to expose undergraduate students to research and to serve as a recruiting tool for them to enter graduate school. Given the CCEFP’s focus on fluid power, their program also includes a fluid power “bootcamp” experience, this year hosted at Purdue University, where the REU students learn the principles of fluid power technology through lectures and hands-on exercises, and participate in a tour of the host university’s fluid power research and teaching laboratories.
My favorite part of the program is the blog that the students are required to post to, sharing their experiences and impressions with the technology and research facilities that they’ll be spending the summer with. Here’s a typical entry:
“First of all I have to admit that the bootcamp changed my whole perception on [what] fluid power is. When applying to the CCEFP, I thought fluid power had to do more with the conceptual analysis of fluids as it is taught in engineering classes. In Purdue I saw that fluid power is a field that has many applications in engineering and especially in industry, which I think is very interesting. Although I’ve taken so many classes on fluids, I never had a lab that demonstrated their behavior, so being in the Maha Lab was a unique experience for me. I think that the bootcamp had a high educational value as I feel ready to apply the concepts of fluid power on my own project.”
It’s fun to see a young person’s eyes opening like this. Time and again, when exposed to what fluid power actually is, we see students come away with a positive and heightened appreciation.
I would encourage NFPA members to follow along at http://ccefpreu2017.blogspot.com/.
There’s no guarantee that an REU student is going to choose fluid power as a career path, but the encouragement of an interested and supportive industry certainly couldn’t hurt!