Jabil, City of San Jose, Evergreen Valley College and Work2Future Join Month-long Mentoring Program to Showcase Future Educational and Career Opportunities in this Emerging Field

October 21, 2016—NextFlex, together with Lincoln High School, Jabil, Inc., the City of San Jose, Evergreen Valley College and Work2Future have launched a novel month-long mentoring project to introduce high school students to the world of flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) and advanced manufacturing. Starting this month, eight 11th and 12th-grade students from Lincoln High School will learn more about the career opportunities and educational pathways to pursue in order to enter into this exciting industry.

NextFlex is one of nine Manufacturing USA institutes developed in the past few years designed to revitalize US manufacturing. NextFlex’s mission is to drive acceleration and adoption of FHE—combining the ability to add electronics to new and unique materials that are part of our everyday lives with the power of silicon ICs. The result is lightweight, low-cost, flexible, conformable and stretchable smart products to solve new problems and advance the efficiency of our world. To that end, for this industry to take root, an influx of new talent, primed to view FHE manufacturing as an exciting, viable profession, will be necessary. This is what NextFlex aims to achieve with this pilot program at Lincoln, with the intent to learn how to scale this program regionally and nationally in the near future.

Brynt Parmeter, Director of Workforce Development, Education and Training at NextFlex, noted, “This mentorship program is the first-of-its-kind for this growing field, and is a natural fit for us at NextFlex. Through our Workforce Development Initiative, we’re helping develop the talent pipelines into FHE, which involves working closely with member companies and local high school and colleges, universities and certificate-issuing organizations to educate and build excitement among students and turn them into the next-generation of FHE researchers, technicians, engineers and professionals.” Parmeter added that NextFlex’s workforce development initiative also is geared toward women, veterans and other underrepresented populations to help build marketable/transferable skills for these groups wishing to return to the workforce, augment their education or change their career path.

Commenting on the project, Matt Hewitson, Principal for Lincoln High School, said, “We are very excited to partner with NextFlex to provide deeper learning opportunities that will help prepare our students to join the 21st century workforce. As a Project-Based Learning school, Lincoln challenges our students to apply their learning in real-world contexts through rigorous interdisciplinary projects that include critical thinking, collaboration, and presentations before a public audience. We are grateful for this opportunity to work with industry and civic leaders, like NextFlex and [City of San Jose] Mayor Liccardo, to provide students with the skills, inspiration, and pathways to thrive in our global workforce.”

The program will require the participants – eight upper-class students from Lincoln’s Capstone Course to work in teams, each guided by a NextFlex mentor, to develop and pitch a business model idea associated with an advanced manufactured human health or performance-monitoring device. The program will kick off on October 21 with a tour of Jabil in the morning and an afternoon session at NextFlex, where the students will be briefed on the program and FHE technology, and will be provided an overview of entrepreneurship and the business model canvas.

In the weeks to follow, the students will visit Evergreen Community College and tour the school’s state-of-the-art automotive technical training facility and observe the college’s students participating in its advanced manufacturing/technical programs. They’ll also receive information from San Jose Work2Future on paid internship opportunities with local area manufacturers, and they will finalize and present their business model ideas during class. The program will conclude in November when the students will present their business model ideas and conduct a meet and greet with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

About Flexible Hybrid Electronics
Once in full production, FHE will usher in a new era of “electronics on everything.” Intelligence will be taken out of the “boxes” or packages associated with traditional electronics like PCs, smartphones and tablets, and transplanted directly onto a variety of surfaces including the human body, enabling an entirely new breed of defense and commercial applications we haven’t imagined. But to develop these enabling FHEs, new manufacturing solutions are required and they come with significant integration challenges. Working alone, it would take years, perhaps decades, and unprecedented amounts of capital for a company to create the infrastructure to support mass production of FHEs. NextFlex, along with its members, is working to rapidly uncover and solve the complex manufacturing issues associated with production of flexible hybrid electronics, and ultimately create a manufacturing infrastructure that can efficiently be spun out to private industry.

About NextFlex
NextFlex was founded on August 28, 2015, through the execution of a Cooperative Agreement between the U.S. Department of Defense and FlexTech Alliance. A public-private partnership, NextFlex is the seventh Manufacturing Innovation Institute funded through Manufacturing USA to create, showcase, and deploy new capabilities and new manufacturing processes. More information about NextFlex, can be found at www.nextflex.us.