By Kim A. Stelson, CCEFP Director.
There are more than 20 projects in the CCEFP’s Education and Outreach menu. Three are summer-only programs, two designed to provide engineering undergraduate students with hands-on fluid power experiences and the third offering similar opportunities to pre-college teachers.
This summer, 26 undergraduates were engaged in Center-related work, 18 in the Research Experience for Undergraduate Program (REU) and 8 in the Fluid Power Scholars Program. The REU program enables students to work in the research labs of the CCEFP under the mentorship of Center faculty. The Scholars Program puts students to work at the facilities of CCEFP corporate sponsors under the mentorship of practicing fluid power engineers. The third program, Research Experiences for Teachers, involves classroom teachers in the Center’s research, too. This summer six teachers, three of them from Project Lead The Way, worked with Center faculty, learning about fluid power, better understanding what constitutes an intensive research project, and then integrating this new knowledge into curriculum modules they develop for their respective classrooms.
Eleven of the 2011 REUs, beginning their summer at a Fluid Power Bootcamp held at UMN
Evaluations of all three programs are just coming in, but every indication so far indicates that students, teachers and mentors—whether university- or industry-based—found their respective programs to be rewarding. All 26 students now know far more about fluid power than they did at the start of the summer, and the teachers will take back what they have learned to their classrooms, much to the benefit of their students.
Besides content, the numbers of this summer’s programs are impressive. As awareness of CCEFP opportunities grows, more and more apply—this year 125+. Applicants came from the CCEFP’s seven universities, of course, but they also came from schools nationwide, well outside that network. And when the final selections were made for the REU and Scholars Program, not only were Center universities represented, but so were the following schools: Humboldt State, Loyola, Louisiana State, Princeton (2), Texas A&M, Yale, Case Western Reserve, the University of Florida, Clarkson, University of Missouri-Columbia, New Mexico State, and the Minneapolis Community and Technical College. That’s quite a line-up!
You can be sure that with classes underway at these universities this fall, word of the CCEFP will continue to spread as students and teachers alike share “what they did on their summer vacation.” (By the way, that word is already spreading through the CCEFP’s Facebook page!) The CCEFP program numbers get even better and the possibilities for outreach explode when you consider aggregate numbers. Since 2007, the Center has hosted 105 REU students and 29 teachers through the RET program. And over the last two years, the CCEFP and industry have partnered to provide outstanding experiences for 16 Fluid Power Scholars.
Taken together, the impact of the CCEFP’s education efforts, already one of its proudest achievements, continues to grow as word about fluid power technology and the industry that supports it spreads in meaningful and lasting ways.
For more information about the CCEFP, please visit us at www.ccefp.org.