I’ve covered fluid power technology since the mid-1990s, and one of my biggest complaints about the industry was that it lagged far behind Europe and Asia—at least in collaboration between fluid power manufacturers and technical universities. I have been fortunate to travel to conferences in Germany, Finland and China where I was able to see firsthand how this type of collaboration should happen. So when the NSF grant application—that would eventually become the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) —was first proposed, I was ecstatic. It was great to watch the Center’s formation and growth, and I’ve been a proponent of it ever since.
This Fall, at the opening of the Fluid Power Innovation & Research Conference in downtown Chicago, CCEFP director Kim Stelson mentioned that the Center is turning 10 (yes, 10!) years old. Where does the time go? Since its inception, the CCEFP has secured more than $45M in fluid power research funding, and 121 B. S., 97 M. S. and 51 Ph. D. students have graduated— including 11 new Ph. D. students this year alone. Of those graduates, 45% are currently working in the fluid power industry. The Center has also been responsible for 67 student internships in the industry.
The CCEFP has been responsible for 36 patent applications and 52 inventions that have been disclosed. There have been 13,232 attendees at short courses, workshops and webinars … and an amazing 70,055 K-12 students have attended fluid power events. Impressive numbers all around.
As the Center enters a new era of self-sustainability (well, without the NSF funding), the staff is working more closely with the National Fluid Power Association and focusing on three focus areas: The Pascal Society, government grants and associated projects.
How the CCEFP has revitalized fluid power research and education in the U. S. over the past decade has been beyond what I’d hoped for. The Center has a bright future, and the industry (which has a pretty great future itself) needs to continue to support it. Thanks to Kim Stelson for his continuing leadership—and everyone who has been involved in this very successful partnership.