Fluid Power Competition Teaches Real-World Engineering

Area middle schools recently participated in the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) Fluid Power Action Challenge at Joliet Junior College. The fourth annual event was held in partnership with JJC and Caterpillar, Inc.

Fluid Power 1

The students worked together, in teams of four, to solve a real-life engineering problem by using fluid power. The teams had to design and build a functional fluid power mechanism in a timed competition.

Teams that participated in the competition included Immaculate Conception School (Morris), Richard Ira Jones Middle School, Aux Sable Middle School, Washington Junior High School and Minooka Junior High School.

The event consisted of two segments; a workshop and a challenge day. During the Workshop Day in September, engineers from Caterpillar introduced the students to fluid power. The students built a pneumatic lifter and learned about the skills needed to be successful on Competition Day.

At the conclusion of Workshop Day students took their kits, tools and supplies back to their respective schools. They worked over the next several weeks to build and test a prototype, develop a portfolio and prepare for the challenge. Engineers from Caterpillar also visited each school to share their expertise and assist them with the final preparations for competition.

Fluid Power 2

Teams returned to JJC on Friday, Nov. 9 for Challenge Day. Students had to use their portfolio designs and tool kits to rebuild the fluid power mechanism. During the timed competition, students had to pick up weighted objects and place them on a platform. Teams were also graded in areas for total points, portfolio ideas, design and teamwork. Caterpillar engineers judged the competition. Representatives from NFPA also attended the event.

Winners were selected at the conclusion of the event. Team 2 from Aux Sable Middle School won the Challenge Award by scoring the most points with their machine. They also received the All-Around Award by scoring the most points in the overall competition categories. Team 3 from Minooka Junior High School won the Best Teamwork Award.

View photos from the NFPA Fluid Power Challenge.

For more information about the Fluid Power Challenge and other STEM-related events at JJC, contact Dean of Applied Arts, Workforce Education and Training Amy Murphy at amurphy@jjc.edu or (815) 280-1418.