Balluff is involved in fluid power education in a number of ways. This past spring, the company invited local middle school students to participate in facility tours and discussions through a partnership with Gateway Community & Technical College and Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a non-profit organization that helps develop STEM programs.
On April 24, CEO Kent Howard welcomed 30 students from Grant County Middle School in Northern Kentucky and accompanied them on tours through Balluff’s Manufacturing and Logistics Center, and the new Customer Support Center. The students also participated in a Q&A with several of the company’s engineers and marketing managers. Will Healy III, strategic marketing manager, demonstrated various product and technology demos to students.
“Looking to the future of manufacturing, we need skilled and excited people for automation,” said Healy. “This demands that we encourage and invest in STEM programs at schools to help develop the next generation of manufacturing.”
“Our goal is to excite our local students about manufacturing and to spark interest for their future plans through education and the workforce,” added Leah Cridlin, Balluff’s training and development specialist, and coordinator of this event.
During the visit, there was minimal hands-on interfacing with sensors; however, Balluff is already planning and preparing for future visits to have an even more hands-on experience by hooking up and using sensors in a few applications.
“We are actively discussing future visits with other teachers in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. We would happily offer this as an ongoing program targeted at middle school, high school or college level students, as we love to share our passion for automation with others. And we recognize that inciting interest in STEM careers is a vital activity for our industry,” Healy said.
Balluff also donates to a number of university programs for their laboratory use, including a donation of sensing equipment for process control like linear transducers, pressure sensors and capacitive sensors. Lastly, Balluff also offers top-notch paid training on sensor fundamentals including fluid power related technologies like magnetic field sensors, proximity sensors and linear position sensors.
On Oct. 2, Balluff participated in the Manufacturing Day event by opening their doors to student groups and customers. The event included facility tours, hands-on sensor application experiences and review of the technology used in different industries.
Balluff’s use of hands-on education was also recently implemented in its Sensing Technologies class, which was offered to a group of six students at North Cobb Christian High School’s Math, Science and Technology Academy in Atlanta.
As described on the school’s website, “The Academy of Math, Science and Technology is a rigorous program designed to prepare students to pursue advanced degrees and careers in high tech markets. Students enroll in a four year course of study consisting of honors and Advanced Placement level classes and targeted electives, culminating in an internship their senior year.”
Director of the Academy, Ben Carr, coordinated with Brian Hedges, product training manager at Balluff, to select students for the two-day technology training. The course included hands-on labs dealing with object detection, linear position measurement and IO-Link technologies, as well as basic controller programming.
“The training Balluff provided was the perfect hands-on experience for my Honors Physics students. It was amazing to see them respond to the real world applications of the principles we have been studying all year. I wish I had a chance to teach them like this every day,” Carr said.
Balluff supports several STEM initiatives in the local community and also participates in TECHFIT (Teaching Engineering Concepts to Harness Future Innovators and Technologists) programs at Purdue University and The College of Charleston.
For a look at how other companies are contributing to fluid power education, check out these posts:
Students gain hands-on experience in new manufacturing hub
Hydrotech donates new equipment to Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
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