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FlexFactor® Goes Virtual as Nation Reacts to COVID-19

By Christina Moore, National FlexFactor Project Manager

On March 19th, 2020, California’s Governor Newsom expanded the shelter-in-place order from just the Bay Area to include the entire state. In the following days, several other states enacted similar orders that all had the same effect: students are no longer going to school in person. In a sometimes-difficult transition, K-12 schools and institutions of higher education did what they had to do to bring school to their students virtually. Similarly, industry had to move their operations to a majority work-from-home model. So, where does that leave a program that engages students in the classroom and takes them on field trips to local colleges and industry partner manufacturing sites?

Through the resourcefulness of the NextFlex team, FlexFactor is now a viable virtual option. Although students are confined to their homes, they can still learn how to combine problem solving, design thinking, and entrepreneurship to address some of the many challenges faced in our world today.

The virtual version of FlexFactor works similarly to the original. Students are tasked with creating a hardware device that addresses a real-world problem, coming up with a business model, and presenting their projects “Shark Tank” style to panelists. Through mentorship sessions, videos, and panels, students learn how advanced manufacturing is enabling the devices of the future and are oriented toward the education pathways that provide the skills needed by industry in this field. The goal of FlexFactor is not just to have students create an impressive product concept, but also to introduce them to the educational and career pathways that can land them a job in the advanced manufacturing sector in the future.

As American school systems respond to an extraordinary shift in the way children are learning, NextFlex is continuing to encourage students to look around and try to solve the problems they see. Whether at home or in the classroom, learning to think critically about their surroundings and experiences will foster the necessary skills for successful careers and a brighter future.

For more information about how NextFlex and FlexFactor are transforming the lives of young people, visit