FlexFactor is a month-long program that exposes 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 viable business model. FlexFactor’s project based learning approach is integrated into an existing classroom, regardless of the subject, providing an alternative learning structure into which classroom objectives can be embedded.
After a month of engaged research, product design, and customer discovery work, students pitch their product and business models to a group of industry professionals in a “shark tank” style setting. Students who complete all requirements earn college credit through dual enrollment agreements with local community colleges.
In addition to the culminating product “pitch” at the end, students conduct two field trips: one to a manufacturing company and one to a college. While at the college, students receive two 90-minute classroom lectures on entrepreneurship and business model development.
FlexFactor Sprint is a condensed version of the FlexFactor program. The objectives are consistent and focus on immersing participants in technology and entrepreneurship while familiarizing them with education and career pathways in advanced manufacturing. Results are achieved in a compressed time frame by leveraging a project based learning approach.
During the first part of the day, students tour a local manufacturer to observe technical innovation, manufacturing process, and STEAM-sector career opportunities first hand. During the second part of the day, students work in teams of four to identify a human health- or performance-related issue and conceptualize a FHE-based hardware device to address it. Additionally, teams create basic business models around their concepts focusing on target markets, users, buyers, and revenue models. Mentors help teams think critically about their product and the components of their business model. At the end of the day, teams pitch their product “shark tank” style to a panel of industry representatives.
FlexFactor is reaching a diverse population of youth and transitioning adults while helping to increase the numbers of women, veterans, and underrepresented populations in technology and advanced manufacturing. Our focus on creating a bright and optimistic future for all while not disadvantaging traditional populations, has been a critical element to the success of the program, and has resulted in a rapidly growing network of innovative companies, colleges, high schools, teachers, students, and parents across Silicon Valley.
We are currently expanding the program locally, regionally, and nationally. If you would like to see the program introduced in your community or to become a FlexFactor sponsor, please write or call and join us in helping to create the future.
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