The measurable success of enrolling students in STEM-based pathways through a popular high school program known as FlexFactor has led the Department of Defense to recently invest $ 5 million through its Manufacturing Engineering Education Program (MEEP). The investment will adapt and export the FlexFactor Framework, which will be used nationally by eight manufacturing USA Innovation Institutes and nonprofit partners focused on emerging technologies.
Developed in San Jose, California by the Flexible Hybrid Electronics Innovation Institute, known as NextFlex, FlexFactor is a feature of NextFlex’s workforce development portfolio. An awareness building program designed for middle school and high school students, FlexFactor connects students with business leaders who face flexible hybrid electronics to address real-world opportunities and challenges.
Through an immersive six-week program, students gain an in-depth knowledge of the advanced manufacturing sector as well as the tools, skills and judgment needed to make effective decisions as it relates to bringing a new technology product to market.
“FlexFactor guides students to explore emerging technology and entrepreneurial thinking through a search-based approach where they examine the life cycle of a product. Which verifies an opportunity for a given solution based on projected demand, distribution partnerships and predicted return on investment, ”said Courtney Power, Development Portfolio Manager at Workforce NextFlex.
“Students not only explore the technical aspects of a potential product, but also the projected sales and operational costs associated with bringing that product to market. In doing so, they sharpen 21.St. Centuries of skills like critical thinking and collaboration, while getting a taste of what a career in advanced production might be like for them. “