Local Middle School Students Receive Real World Experience at JJC

Eighth grade students from middle schools across the area learned more about engineering and received real world experience at the National Fluid Power Association’s (NFPA) Fluid Power Challenge, sponsored by Caterpillar, Inc., at Joliet Junior College in November.

The challenge gave students an opportunity to solve a real-life engineering problem by designing and building a fluid power mechanism. During the timed competition, students had to pick up weighted objects and place them on a platform. Teams were graded in areas such as total points, portfolio ideas, design and teamwork.

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Ira Jones eighth grader Cameron Murphy said the challenge was a great experience. “I learned some important things about teamwork and how to use time wisely,” he said.

“The best part of this event is that it really teaches the real-world of engineering. Many of the companies that sponsor these events tell me time and again that the task that we’re asking these kids to perform mimics what happens in the real-world of engineering to a very significant degree,” said Eric Lanke, chief executive officer of the NFPA.

Winners of the National Fluid Power Association’s Fluid Power Challenge are pictured.

Winners of the National Fluid Power Association’s Fluid Power Challenge are pictured.

In addition to the success of the program, this year showed an increased number of female students that participated.

“I think that this was a great experience to get some of our girls involved. Having a girl on the team who was a leader was really positive for the rest of our students,” said Molly Trafton, eighth grade science teacher at Heritage Grove Middle School. “Coming from my own perspective and being a woman who teaches science, I think it’s really great that we’re trying to get more girls involved at a younger age to show them they can do it and that science is for everybody.”

Area middle schools in the competition included: Aux Sable Middle School, Chaney-Monge Junior High, Crone Middle School, Heritage Grove Middle School, Hufford Junior High, Manhattan Junior High, Minooka Junior High, Richard Ira Jones Middle School, Richland Junior High and Washington Junior High.

Winners at the 2015 NFPA Fluid Power Challenge were: Best Portfolio – Minooka Junior High, Team 3; Best Design – Richard Ira Jones Middle School – Team 1; Best Machine Performance – Aux Sable Middle School, Team 3; Best Teamwork – Minooka Junior High – Team 1; Overall Champion – Crone Middle School – Team 2.

For more information about the Fluid Power Challenge, visit www.nfpa.com. If your company is interested in partnership opportunities with upcoming JJC programs, contact Amy Murphy at amurphy@jjc.edu or visit www.trainingupdate.org.

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