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Sixth-grade students meet engineering challenges at the third annual Fluid Power Challenge

– Tuesday, January 17, 2017 8:00AM

Program to promote STEM careers with fun, hands-on activities

Macomb Community College, in partnership with Master Pneumatics Inc., will present the third annual Fluid Power Challenge, designed to introduce local sixth grade students to the world of engineering and increase awareness of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. 

More than 110 sixth-graders will be tasked with solving specific engineering challenges using pressurized gases and liquids. The students are from Agnes E. Beer Middle School, Warren; Lois E. Carter Middle School, Warren; Will Carleton Middle School, Sterling Heights; and Virgil I. Grissom Middle School, Sterling Heights.

“There is a shortage of students of all ages interested in pursuing STEM careers,” said Joe Petrosky, dean, Engineering and Advanced Technology at Macomb.  “The Fluid Power Challenge is designed  to capture students’ imagination through fun, hands-on activities. Programs like this are important to reconstructing the pipeline for the STEM professionals of the future.”

This six-week program begins Tuesday, Jan. 24, when students will learn the basics of both pneumatics and hydraulics, the two components of fluid power. They will learn to build small pneumatic lifters and develop the skills they will need to operate them.  Following the initial session, students will break into teams and return to their schools to design, build and test their prototypes aimed at meeting the engineering challenge scenario presented to them the first day.

At the second session, to be held on March 28, the teams will compete, using their machines to solve engineering problems including lifting, rotating and placing weighted cylinders on a platform. The students will be judged on how well their machines operate, how well they work together as a group, personal interviews and how well they document the process.

Both sessions will be held at the John Lewis Student Community Center (K Building) on Macomb’s South Campus.

Master Pneumatic Inc. originally advocated bringing the Fluid Power Challenge to Michigan and partnered with Macomb to make it a reality. This is the third year the two organizations have worked together on this program.

According to the National Fluid Power Association, (NFPA), fluid power is a growing and rapidly changing field that provides numerous opportunities that cut across many fields including manufacturing, transportation, entertainment and others. NFPA created the Fluid Power Challenge to help address a potential future shortage of skilled workers by introducing STEM to students in their early years.

About Macomb Community College
Macomb Community College ( is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 44,000 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: Sean M. Patrick, 586.445.7271,