Kids, education and fluid power
You’ll likely notice that most issues of Fluid Power World have a particular focus on students and fluid power education. While it’s common to see “students are our future” type statements in most any industry, I think we can all admit that getting kids-heck, even college engineering students-interested in hydraulics or pneumatics is a big challenge. Fluid power is a mature industry that doesn’t capture the mainstream media’s imagination of what engineers do the way that bridge building or rocket designing might.
There’s been a big STEM push that’s been picked up by the media the past couple of years, and many people and schools are getting into the idea. We need to realize that we have some real avenues into the discussion. LEGO didactic kits are affordable, great ways to introduce children to the concept of pneumatics. Maybe a tax-deducta- ble gift of some of the kits to your local elementary school would get the ball moving in your community. Maybe your company will even match the funds? And we all know that robots can incorporate fluid power actuation-and what kid isn’t fascinated by real life robots? (Mine sure are!) I was blown away by my visit to Dean Kamen’s FIRST Robotics championship in St. Louis this spring. It was great to see some fluid power companies (both manufacturers and distributors) sponsoring teams and providing equipment.
We understand the importance of encouraging fluid power education, and we cover it extensively in every issue, including our Training, Association Watch and Research & Development columns. Our Safety and Maintenance departments often have education-oriented topics, as well. This month, you’ll find an insightful feature story written by Assistant Editor Michelle DiFrangia that takes a look at the state of fluid power education, examining programs that have been undertaken by schools, universities, manufacturers and distributors, and even our industry associations.
The National Fluid Power Association actively wants to work with companies that have their own events-like Parker Hannifin’s Chainless Challenge, and we’d love to play a role, too, in promoting these events to the wider community.
I remember sitting at the NFPA Annual Conference earlier this year, and a map went up showing where fluid power companies were donating time and money to educational causes. There were some embarrassing gaps, including in my own state of Ohio, home of a lot of fluid power manufacturers, users and expertise. We need to fill in the map. How are you going to help this school year?