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Developing the workforce of the future

In support of our commitment to the future of advanced manufacturing, NextFlex created a program that energizes youth, industry, and local communities around the importance of technologies such as Flexible Hybrid Electronics as they relate to day-to-day life. By showcasing the vibrancy and reach of modern day manufacturing, NextFlex is not only dispelling false perceptions, but more importantly, we are catalyzing an important group of future industry leaders – especially young women and other underrepresented populations. The program at the center of this growing movement is FlexFactor®.

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Following a project-based learning approach, FlexFactor equips students with a range of 21st-century skills that will advance their impending career potential and opportunities. Judgement, adaptability, research, problem solving, critical thinking, creative reasoning, teamwork, and leadership are all core components of this innovative approach to preparing individuals for a bright future.

Partnering with companies, schools, government organizations, and non-profits, FlexFactor is informing, inspiring, and recruiting people to become the future of advanced manufacturing. By fully immersing students into the blended worlds of advanced manufacturing technology and entrepreneurship, the program generates excitement around STEAM-based education and career pathways.

The FlexFactor platform manifests itself in a variety of forms. There are month-long “full” programs, one-day “sprints," and a variety of options in between. Each type remains true to the core imperatives of technology, entrepreneurship, education, and career pathways wrapped around a project-based learning format.

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 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 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.

For more details, click here.

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.

For more details, click here.

Meet some of NextFlex's MVPs

These power players boast stellar stats with backgrounds in manufacturing, government and education.

Janos Veres, Ph.D.

Program Manager

Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)

Janos Veres joined PARC to manage its Printed Electronics team. Janos has experience in components such as novel printed circuits, organic transistors, and printable semiconductors; applications such as OLEDs, displays, and RFID; as well as printing/coating technologies including electrophotography, flexography, and offset printing. Before joining PARC, Janos was the CTO at PolyPhotonix, worked at Eastman Kodak as their Program Manager of Printed Electronics, was a Business Research Associate at Merck Chemicals (formerly Avecia), and was responsible for Organic Photoreceptor development at Gestetner Byfleet.

Tracy Frost

Director, Manufacturing USA

DoD Institutes

Acting Director

DoD ManTech

Tracy Frost joined the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy (MIBP) in 2015. Ms. Frost supports the Director of Manufacturing Technology with the Defense-wide Manufacturing Science and Technology program, as well as the DoD Manufacturing Innovation Institutes. Previously, Ms. Frost served as the DoD SBIR/STTR Programs Administrator out of the DoD Office of Small Business Programs where she implemented innovative initiatives to assist the small business community transition viable technologies to the military and commercial marketplace.

Before joining OSBP, Ms. Frost managed the Office of Naval Research’s SBIR Program. She consistently increased the number of SBIR firms that transitioned into Phase III each year by increasing the involvement of Acquisition enabler science and technology programs. Prior to small business involvement, Ms. Frost served as a science and technology Program Manager for over 10 years in the areas of unmanned systems and ship logistics.

Tracy has a B.S. in Ocean Engineering from Florida Atlantic University and an M.S. in Engineering Management from George Washington University.

Homer Antoniadis

Global Technology Director

DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions

Dr. Antoniadis is responsible for DuPont Photovoltaic (PV) Solutions global technology and for accelerating the introduction of next-generation DuPont materials and offerings into the solar energy market. He joined DuPont in 2011 with the acquisition of Innovalight, Inc., where he was chief technology officer & vice president of Engineering. Prior to Innovalight, his 20-year career included positions with Osram Opto Semiconductors, Hewlett-Packard Labs and Xerox. Widely recognized in the PV industry, he regularly serves as a lecturer and conference chair at leading industry events. Dr. Antoniadis has more than 60 publications in crystalline and amorphous silicon photovoltaics, OLEDs, and polymer materials and has 25 issued U.S. patents. He earned a B.S. in physics from Ioannina University in Greece and his Ph.D. and M.S. in physics from Syracuse University.

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