Area middle schools recently participated in the National Fluid Power Association Fluid Power Action Challenge at Joliet Junior College.
The 5th annual event was held in partnership with Caterpillar Inc. and Joliet Junior College.
A record number of eighth grade students participated in this year’s event. Students worked in teams 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 were Immaculate Conception School, Saratoga Middle School, Aux Sable Middle School, St. Jude School, Coal City Middle School, Manhattan Junior High School, Richard Ira Jones, Seneca Middle School, Wilmington Middle School and Minooka Junior High School.
The event consisted of two segments: Workshop Day and Challenge Day. During the workshop day back 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 Challenge Day.
Engineers from Caterpillar also visited each school to share their expertise and assist them with the final preparations for competition.
Teams returned to JJC on Nov. 15 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.
In addition, 12 teams succeeded in building a machine with all three functions working and scoring the points during the challenge – the most out of any year.
The 2019 Overall Winner of the JJC Fluid Power Competition was Immaculate Conception. The ICS team also won in the “Challenge” category.
Other Challenge Day winners were Ira Jones for best portfolio, Manhattan for work habits, and Minooka for device design and operation.