By Eric Lanke
On April 28, 2017, I attended the Fluid Power Action Challenge hosted by Caterpillar and Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois. If you’re not familiar with the program, the Fluid Power Action Challenge is a design/build competition for eighth grade students that has them building fluid power-controlled machines and using them to compete in a timed challenge. Caterpillar is one of the several NFPA members that has adopted this program and now conducts an annual event with schools in its local community. For more information on the program, visit our Fluid Power Challenge website at: http://nfpahub.com/fpc/
Almost twenty of these member-sponsored events occur each year, and I always try to get out of the office and participate in some of them. It’s a great experience, watching the enthusiasm and creativity that the students bring to their designs and knowing that it is our industry’s technology that is making that happen for them. Every time I visit one of these events, and the recent Caterpillar Challenge was no different, the middle school teachers who have been working for weeks with their students go out of their way to tell me how much they value this program and what a difference it has made in their classrooms.
The hands-on learning is tremendous. That’s a common remark I hear. It engages kids in ways that a traditional curriculum does not. Sometimes, it is the otherwise quietest and least-engaged kids in the class who embrace and excel at activities like our Action Challenge.
Receiving this feedback is extremely gratifying, and something I wish more NFPA members could experience. Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to get your company more engaged.