Mitchell Technology Education Students Win National Fluid Power Challenge

“The students had four weeks to develop and build a working prototype of a hydraulic material handling machine using sticks of wood, syringes and flexible tubing.”

Kids with their project

Eight students from ’s Technology Education class, Gateway to Technology, were chosen to compete in the National Fluid Power(NFPA) Challenge competition at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE).  They were led by their Technology Education teacher Keith Kohlmann and school counselor Kate Mascarette.

Each team, made up of two boys and two girls, was shown an engineering problem that had to be solved using fluid power applications during the first of two daylong workshops at the MSOE campus on November 11.  The students had four weeks to develop and build a working prototype of a hydraulic material handling machine using sticks of wood, syringes and flexible tubing.  Machines were required to lift a block of wood and precisely place it in a confined space on an elevated shelf to win points during the two-minute competition.  The machines needed lift, grab and crowd functions.

Each team was required to submit an engineering report on their prototype machine to the judges panel made up of NFPA representatives from local fluid power industries and MSOE staff.  The reports contained isometric and orthographic drawings of the prototype machine, an explanation of the placement of fluidic components, a discussion of the principles of strength and stability of the design, a consideration of alternatives and an evaluation of the prototype.  The Mitchell teams worked on the problem during their Technology Education classes and after school in the Lighted Schoolhouse program.

The Mitchell Middle School teams, along with two teams from Starbuck Middle School, joined 10 teams on Dec. 9 from Milwaukee area schools at MSOE for the competition.  All teachers were removed from the room for an industrial tour of HUSCO International in Waukesha.  The student groups were then given four hours to build a second version of their prototype machine in front of the judges, using only their plans and engineering report for guidance.  Judges circulated among the groups awarding points for teamwork, technical skills and correct answers to quiz questions about fluid power.

The students worked non-stop, furiously measuring, cutting wood, gluing parts and checking their work against their plans.  Most groups worked straight through lunch, with some groups placing components and trouble shooting problems in the last minute of an epic four-hour marathon.

Fluid Power Competition

The teachers returned to join the crowd of students and judges to watch the teams from each school take turns operating their machines in the Fluid Power Challenge.  Points were scored for each object successfully picked up and moved with fluid power during a two-minute round.

There were many tense moments in the competition.  Machines broke down.  Strategies failed.  A month’s worth of preparation led up to this final test.  Mitchell Team One designed a strong, well-balanced machine with an unusually fast cycle time, allowing them to take an early lead by moving 14 blocks in two minutes.

While the students cleaned up the workshop area, the judges met to total each team’s points in the areas of engineering report, team work, engineering design, answers to questions and machine performance.  They had to choose a winner in each category, including Overall Champion.

The teachers, parents, judges, and teams assembled one last time for the presentation of the National Fluid Power 2011-2012 trophies.

Mitchell Team One, Adilene Aguirre, Kallie Braun, Eric Rodriguez and Jimmy Kohlmann received the Overall Champion First Placetrophy by posting the highest point totals in the competition.  The applause had no sooner died down than Mitchell Team One was called back to receive the Engineering Portfolio Championtrophy, where they scored a perfect 100 percent.

Fluid Power Competition

The teachers returned to join the crowd of students and judges to watch the teams from each school take turns operating their machines in the Fluid Power Challenge.  Points were scored for each object successfully picked up and moved with fluid power during a two-minute round.

There were many tense moments in the competition.  Machines broke down.  Strategies failed.  A month’s worth of preparation led up to this final test.  Mitchell Team One designed a strong, well-balanced machine with an unusually fast cycle time, allowing them to take an early lead by moving 14 blocks in two minutes.

While the students cleaned up the workshop area, the judges met to total each team’s points in the areas of engineering report, team work, engineering design, answers to questions and machine performance.  They had to choose a winner in each category, including Overall Champion.

The teachers, parents, judges, and teams assembled one last time for the presentation of the National Fluid Power 2011-2012 trophies.

Mitchell Team One, Adilene Aguirre, Kallie Braun, Eric Rodriguez and Jimmy Kohlmann received the Overall Champion First Placetrophy by posting the highest point totals in the competition.  The applause had no sooner died down than Mitchell Team One was called back to receive the Engineering Portfolio Championtrophy, where they scored a perfect 100 percent.

Technical Education Programs

The Fluid Power Challenge is a skills competition for eighth grade students, intended to expose students to engineering problem solving using fluid power technology.  All Mitchell Middle School students in the Gateway to Technology engineering classes designed and built fluid power machines as part of their Project Lead the Way (PLTW) curriculum, a national standard for science, technology, engineering and math education.

All students in Racine Unified School District are encouraged to continue taking advanced PLTW courses in high school, where they can earn up to 12 college credits from MSOE while attendingPLTW classes in their Racine high school.

Mitchell students also learned about the amazing variety of careers that use fluid power technology, ranging from traditional automotive and construction applications to robotic, medical and digitalization specialties.

The Fluid Power Challenge is only one part of a three year-long program where middle school students learn about engineering careers by doing real engineering in their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classes at Mitchell.  They also participate in engineering workshops at UW-Madison, MSOE, Mitchell PLTW Summer Engineering Academy, and in the Lighted Schoolhouse after school program.  The program is designed to prepare the next generation of engineers from an early age.

Technical Education classes in Racine Unified Schools are a well-defined set of integrated programs providing a rigorous curriculum that prepares students to be successful in engineering college or technical school.

Industries in the Racine area have a long history of invention and innovation in the fluid power industry.  Local industry sponsors of the National Fluid Power Challenge include Air-Logic, Bosch Rexroth, and Racine Federated Inc.

From December 15, 2011

genesis_comment_form_args [Leave a Comment']