On Friday, October 6th, Sinclair Community College hosted its second annual Manufacturing Day event in Dayton, Ohio. This event, organized by Sinclair FlexFactor Program Manager Julie Huckaba, brought together 369 students from local middle- and high schools, 26 teachers, and numerous industry partner representatives to celebrate National Manufacturing Day. The student turnout was double that of the inaugural 2022 event. All the students are completing the FlexFactor project-based learning program with Julie and her team this semester, during which they are identifying a real-world problem they want to solve, conceptualizing a product enabled by Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) to solve that problem, building a business model to sell their product, and then presenting it in a final pitch to a panel of judges.
This Manufacturing Day event, which took place on the Sinclair campus, allowed students to participate in hands-on activities to spark their interest in advanced manufacturing careers. Representatives from industry partners who attended included University of Dayton Research Institute – Fastlane, Air Force Research Labs – GRILL (Gaming Research for Integrated Learning Lab), National Air and Space Intel Center (NASIC), Quality Quartz Engineering, Yasakawa Motoman, Parker Lord, VEGA Americas, Secure Cyber Defense, and NextFlex.
A student uses a virtual reality device at Sinclair Community College’s Manufacturing Day event.
Students came from 8 schools, representing 5 counties. These students are participating in FlexFactor as a part of other classes which range from remedial math courses to Career Exploration and Entrepreneurship to Robotics, Digital Design, and Engineering. After they arrived at the Sinclair campus, they were able to tour the VEGA Americas state-of-the-art mobile lab, where they saw demonstrations of VEGA sensors and devices. Then, students visited classrooms and labs throughout the campus including Biotechnology, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering Technology, CNC, and Robotics, where they learned about STEM educational opportunities available to them at Sinclair.
Then, students visited the interactive displays and demonstrations brought by industry representatives, which included a candy-throwing robot from Yaskawa, built by a team of interns! Students were also able to speak one-on-one about their career goals with industry leaders; Dr. Nick Morris and Mr. Jeff Bergman of NextFlex talked with students about the FHE-enabled products the students are conceptualizing during their FlexFactor programs. After the tours and demonstrations were complete, while students were enjoying lunch together, Ms. Huckaba led the group – who filled the gymnasium bleachers – in an Advanced Manufacturing quiz session, where the room became alive as students energetically competed to answer the questions.
A student catches candy thrown by a robot at Sinclair Community College’s Manufacturing Day event.
The students in attendance represented approximately 100 FlexFactor student teams. Some of the amazing products these students are conceptualizing are child location devices embedded in shoelaces in the event of kidnapping, technology to monitor art theft that also provides gallery guests information about the artwork, and numerous devices to monitor health and enhance sports performance. It was exciting to see these students be able to connect what they are learning and conceptualizing during FlexFactor with real-life educational and career opportunities that are available to them. Many Sinclair staff members and local industry partners collaborated to make this event a success for Dayton area FlexFactor participants. As Ms. Huckaba said, “The work was all worth it because the students were able to see that Sinclair might be an option for their future, and they were also able to interact with the many employers who gave up their day to be with us and provided interactive activities for the students. If students can see new possibilities, they may come to understand that they can build their futures differently from what they currently think and know.”