By Eric Lanke, CEO, NFPA

At 6’6”, I’m usually not hard to pick out in a crowd. But in case you can’t tell, that’s me standing at the podium in the photo below. Where am I? I’m in Lafayette, Indiana, near the campus of Purdue University, and I’m speaking to the assembled group of industry, professors, students and reviewers at the NSF site visit of the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP).

What am I doing there? I’m one of more than a dozen representatives of the fluid power industry showing our support of the CCEFP, and to testify to our on-the-ground experience that this unique network of researchers, educators and students is making good on its promise to transform how fluid power is studied, applied and taught.

Here’s something that really hit home for me. During our discussions, one of the industry members who has been most involved in the Center said that the students his company was hiring from the CCEFP-affiliated universities were the most prepared students they had ever hired.

Before the CCEFP, he said, a new mechanical engineering graduate coming into their company would require 6-12 months of orientation and additional fluid power training to begin making substantive contributions to their organization. Since they started hiring out of the CCEFP, that time has been cut to one month. CCEFP grads, it seems, know fluid power in ways previous students haven’t.

This really cuts to the heart of why the fluid power industry supports the CCEFP. The purpose of the site visit was to confirm that the CCEFP would receive its last three years of NSF funding, and to discuss ways for the industry to continuing supporting it for years beyond that term. It’s something I’m committed to and, if your business relies on well-educated fluid power engineers, you should be, too.