Three Days in NFPA’s Third Fast Track Hub

One of NFPA’s strategic priorities is to increase the number of fluid power educated technicians and engineers. Our Fast Track to Fluid Power program is one of the workforce development initiatives conducted to fill that need. A Fast Track Hub centers on a technical or community college with a validated fluid power and mechatronics degree program. The program aims to foster a productive partnership between technical colleges, NFPA’s industry partners, and students and faculty in local middle schools and high schools.

This spring, NFPA Workforce Staff spent three days in Suburban Detroit to support activity in the Fast Track Hub at Macomb Community College (MCC). MCC was established as the third NFPA Fast-Track Hub in 2022, after Waukesha County Technical College and Triton College. Located in Michigan, MCC offers a two-year fluid power related degree in Automated Systems Technology – Mechatronics.

To engage middle school students in the region, Michigan’s NFPA Fluid Power Action Challenge hosted by Master Pneumatic and Peninsular Cylinder introduced over 200 6th and 8th grade students on 56 teams from the Middle School Mathematics Science Technology Center to fluid power. A few weeks later, while attending the FIRST Regional Robotics Competition at Macomb Community College, NFPA Workforce Staff met FRC Team 818, the Steel Armadillos. The students recognized our “NFPA” logo and shared that when they were middle schoolers, they participated in the Michigan Fluid Power Action Challenge. Now, as high schoolers, they are participating in FIRST, applying pneumatic concepts in their robotics designs, graduating high school, and moving forward to pursue engineering degrees.

To engage more high school students in the area NFPA Workforce Staff attended a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Regional Advisory Committee meeting through the Macomb Intermediate School District. The committees were tasked with sharing and discussing vital issues that are common to their CTE programs. Through this meeting, we were able to connect with high school engineering and robotics teachers in the region and share the value of NFPA’s workforce programs. As a result, one of the teachers hosted a Speaker’s Bureau opportunity in May where NFPA members were able to speak to 150 students taking Introduction to Engineering, Engineering Explorations, and Advanced Engineering courses. The teacher shared that “the students really enjoyed it, and better news is I had several students come to me inquiring about positions within the field and about ways into the industry.”

To bridge connections between Macomb Community College students, faculty, and NFPA members, NFPA Workforce Staff held an in-person Michigan Workforce Engagement Group meeting. At this meeting, NFPA members were invited to meet with faculty member Ken Dulinski, tour their temporary Advanced Technology Center facility, and discuss their workforce needs. In the fall, the fluid power related programs will be moved to an upgraded facility and NFPA and Macomb staff have plans to bring members back on campus to see the new spaces for fluid power education. 

If you’re interested in getting involved with the Fast Track Hub around Macomb Community College, please reach out to Haley Nemeth at hnemeth@nfpa.com. Similar activities are taking place in the other Fast Track hub regions. Click here to join a Workforce Engagement Group to stay informed of the latest opportunities to recruit and engage with emerging talent in these regions.

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