On Thursday, February 2, NextFlex participated in the first nationwide Groundhog Job Shadow Day, hosting 20 high school students from Lincoln and Willow Glen High Schools for a day of career exploration in the advanced manufacturing sector of flexible hybrid electronics. In partnership with San Jose Unified School District and with Strive San Jose, a Silicon Valley Organization (SVO) program, students enrolled in career technical education courses arrived excited and ready to learn about new technology and product development.

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Students gowned up and toured the NextFlex cleanroom, getting up close and personal with microscopes, inspection and packaging equipment, and learned the basics of the manufacturing process. This part of the day was clearly the favorite for students because it made the technology “real” to them, and virtually all of the students said that they wanted to learn more about flexible hybrid electronics, and that they could see themselves pursuing this industry for a career choice.

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Malcolm Thompson, Ph.D., NextFlex Executive Director, spoke to the students about Flexible Hybrid Electronics and the amazing products that can be developed when printing, thin silicon, and electronics technologies converge to create products that help people. Brynt Parmeter, NextFlex Director of Workforce Development spoke about entrepreneurialism, and the elements of a basic business model – What is the market for a product? Manufacturing costs? Who are relevant partners? And what is the value proposition for the product? The students were then given an assignment: as a group, they were instructed to identify a human health or performance problem and to develop a device that could detect, diagnose, or monitor the problem or treat the condition by utilizing flexible hybrid electronics technology. Once the teams developed their ideas and business cases, they pitched their ideas “Shark Tank” style to a panel of NextFlex technologists.

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The ideas ranged from portable defibrillators, to wearable ultrasound patches for real-time ultrasound views, personal monitors for athletes and the chronically ill that track nutrition levels and alert when medication or nutrients are needed, and personal location alert systems. Presenters answered questions from the panel about additional features, target market, and business models. One team even incorporated technology ideas developed by another, so their business model accounted for technology licensing!

All in all, it was a great day, and the students were appreciative of the opportunity to visit NextFlex. Most of the students indicated that they would be interested in internship opportunities at local companies in the summer if such an opportunity arose. If an intern program is something you would be interested in supporting, please get in touch with Emily McGrath at emcgrath@nextflex.us.

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