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Macomb Community College to host Fluid Power Challenge, engaging teams of sixth-graders to build machines to solve engineering problems

– Monday, January 26, 2015 12:00AM

More than 160 sixth-grade students from the Warren Consolidated School District will meet at Macomb Community College in February and March to learn how pressurized gases and liquids are used in applications as diverse as tipping the bed of a dump truck, powering assembly line components or bringing robotic characters to life at amusement parks.

The goal of Macomb’s Fluid Power Challenge, the first ever held in Michigan, is to introduce students first-hand to the concepts involved with fluid power, a term used to describe both pneumatics and hydraulics. Pneumatics transfers power using a gas – usually compressed air – while hydraulics uses compressed liquids, such as oil or water.

“Fluid power is one of the many STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – fields,” said Joe Petrosky, dean, Engineering and Advanced Technology at Macomb. “Now and in the foreseeable future, some of the best jobs available will be STEM related. Macomb is hosting the Fluid Power Challenge as part of our ongoing effort to expose and engage young people in hands-on exploration of STEM-related career opportunities.”

The challenge consists of two parts. On Feb. 6, students will meet to build small pneumatic lifters using tubing, syringes and other materials and develop the skills they will need to operate them. On March 26, the teams will meet again to compete, using their machines to solve engineering problems such as picking up weighted objects and placing them on a platform. Teams will be graded based on how well their machines operate and how well they work together as a group. Both sessions will be held at the John Lewis Student Community Center (K Building) on Macomb’s South Campus.

According to the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA), fluid power is a growing, rapidly changing field that is facing a shortage of skilled workers. The Fluid Power Challenge was created by the affiliated NFPA Education and Technology Foundation to help address the shortage by actively engaging students with hands-on activities that allow them to put fluid power to work.

The idea to bring a Fluid Power Challenge to Michigan was championed by Master Pneumatic Inc. in Sterling Heights, which is helping to organize the event at Macomb.  David Hone, president of Master Pneumatic and NFPA board member, said his company has been an active member of NFPA for 50 years and contributor to the NFPA Education and Technology Foundation since its inception.  Hone said he wanted to bring the Fluid Power Challenge to Michigan because he has a strong interest in helping to develop the future workforce of the fluid power industry. 

Since the program was launched in 2008, more than 30 Fluid Power Challenge events have been held in the United States and India, according to the NFPA. Similar events are held in Canada under the auspices of the Canadian Fluid Power Association.  More about the Fluid Power Challenge is available at this link.

About Macomb Community College
Macomb Community College ( is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 48,000 students annually.  Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges.  The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.

Media Contact: James Melton, 586.445.7271,