If you’re like most of your colleagues who know a thing or two about fluid power, you’re wishing you could find employees who know at least a thing about it. Unfortunately, as you know better than most tech professionals, not enough young people are being drawn to STEM jobs. And even among students interested in science, technology, engineering and math, fluid power is not typically a field they even know about. The NFPA’s Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge took place April 11th and 12th at the IMI Precision Engineering facility in Littleton, Colorado.
As the only business journal invited to cover this event, H&P met several fluid power professionals doubling as head hunters looking to snap up newly minted experts in their field as soon as they graduate university. Judging from our interviews with the university teams pitting their hydraulic vehicles against others, many of these competitors are already spoken for. They’ll be putting their problem-solving skills to work immediately—and earning a nice salary that will undoubtedly go toward paying off a chunk of their student debt.
This year’s competition drew a nice mix of participants, both male and female, from universities across the country. Several of these schools participated in previous years’ competitions, and their teams made good use of past designs—and improved them. Some first-timers, however, showed how amazing teamwork formulating new ideas could build strong competitors in fighting the tried and true.
On this page are video links to H&P’s conversations with a few of these teams and their advisors. We caught up with them as they assembled and tested their vehicles for the next day’s design, endurance and efficiency challenges. See if you can spot the one that the NFPA’s Ernie Parker told us he would hire tomorrow (Parker also happens to be a tireless recruiter for the fluid power industry). While you’re at it, see if there’s one you’d hire today.
The National Fluid Power Association’s 2019 Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge:
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Cleveland State University
Colorado State University
Iowa State University
Kennesaw State University
Montana State University
Murray State University
University of Akron
University of Cincinnati
University of Denver
University of Utah
West Virginia University Inst. of Tech.
Western Michigan University
Judges and Mentors
Danfoss Power Solutions
FORCE America Inc.
Iowa Fluid Power
Parker Hannifin Corporation
Trelleborg Sealing Solutions
Bimba Mfg. IMI Precision Engineering— Final Competition Event Host
Eaton Corp. — Parts Supplier
Lube-Tech — Fluid Supplier
Parker Hannifin Corp. — Program Sponsor
SunSource — Parts Supplier
Source Fluid Power — Parts Supplier