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Macomb Community College hosts second Fluid Power Challenge, engaging sixth-graders to build machines, solve engineering problems

– Tuesday, January 19, 2016 12:00AM

Macomb Community College hosts second Fluid Power Challenge, engaging sixth-graders to build machines, solve engineering problems
Two-session program takes place in Warren on Jan. 27 and March 30

More than 160 sixth-grade students from the Warren Consolidated School District will meet at Macomb Community College later this month and in March to learn how pressurized gases and liquids are used to make things move in industry, transportation, entertainment and other kinds of applications.

Macomb’s Fluid Power Challenge returns for a second year 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. 

“We believe cultivating  interest in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – careers  is important and needs to begin early, ensuring that we are connecting individuals to some of the best new jobs being created,” said Joe Petrosky, dean, Engineering and Advanced Technology at Macomb.  “The Fluid Power Challenge engages young people in hands-on exploration of a STEM field in a fun way.  Last year’s event was enthusiastically received by students and teachers, so we’re glad to bring it back in 2016.”

The challenge consists of two parts. On Jan. 27, 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 30, 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.

Master Pneumatic Inc. of Sterling Heights championed the idea to bring the Fluid Power Challenge to Michigan and is again helping to organize the event at Macomb. Last year’s challenge was the first ever held in the state.

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.

Since the program was launched in 2008, 49 Fluid Power Challenge events have introduced 4,480 middle and high school students to fluid power, 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 and is the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan. 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,