FlexFactor is a 4-week entrepreneurship program that exposes high school students to the vast range of professional opportunity within advanced manufacturing. Small teams of students identify a human health or performance related problem, conceptualize a flexible hybrid electronic device to solve it, and package their concept into a business model canvas. FlexFactor’s project based learning model is integrated into an existing class, providing an alternative learning structure into which classroom learning objectives can be embedded.
FlexFactor kicks off with an all-day field trip to a local manufacturer that immerses students in entrepreneurship and advanced manufacturing. A follow-up field trip includes a tour of the participating Community College Campus and an overview of the college application process. To help students navigate the program, each team is paired with a local mentor who helps students achieve project milestones while promoting active engagement with the professional workforce. The program’s final deliverable is a five-minute Shark Tank-style pitch during which each team presents their product and business model to a panel of representatives.
FlexFactor concludes with a class on post-course opportunities, including paid summer internships and financial counseling. Students who successfully complete the program earn 3 college credits.
The Multi-Skilled Technician Initiative is a Community College Certificate Program designed to teach broad-based skills for technician-level employees interested in working within the advanced manufacturing sector of the US economy. This employer-sponsored program is creating a pipeline of qualified talent that is prepared to meet the workforce needs of FHE manufacturers.
The Multi-Skilled Technician certification program includes courses that address basic employability skills including budgeting, scheduling, planning, communication, sales, and project management. Advanced technical skill sets are also addressed and include safety, quality control, and production protocols while high level skills such as problem solving, team collaboration, and leadership round out the curriculum.
This program is being piloted at Evergreen Valley College and San Jose City College, before expanding throughout the California Community College system.
NextFlex is partnered with the Hacking for Defense (H4D) initiative to engage university students in advanced manufacturing related problems. The first pilot was conducted at Stanford University in the Spring of 2016 followed by a second pilot held at UC San Diego in the Fall of 2016. Over 50 students were involved, addressing 10 problem sets.
H4D harnesses “Lean Startup” principles to facilitate iterative solution discovery. Participants meet with government and commercial stakeholders as they encounter the “unknowns” and uncertainty of turning ideas into products. Ultimately, the H4D platform is designed to transition state and national level security, urban resilience, manufacturing and other related domain problems into deployable solutions that can be funded and implemented in response to rapidly evolving challenges.