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NextFlex and the Morgan Family Foundation Team up to Deliver an Environmentally-focused FlexFactor®

One of the most compelling characteristics of emerging technology is its capacity to solve some of the biggest challenges facing our world. From environmental issues to socioeconomic challenges to medical problems, next-generation materials and products present our greatest hopes to solve the problems of today and tomorrow.

In line with this philosophy, the Morgan Family Foundation partnered with NextFlex to raise awareness about environmental problems and inspire students to learn how technology can be used to prevent, mitigate, and address associated challenges. Beginning this spring, five classes of students from San Jose, California, will participate in special iterations of the FlexFactor program that will focus on environmental applications for advanced technologies. Student teams will be challenged to identify local environmental problems related to climate change, forestry, and water resources, and conceptualize advanced hardware products that could be used to address them.

Working with future-thinking companies like Jabil and DuPont, the FlexFactor program is helping students learn about the range of emerging technologies that can be harnessed to address all kinds of problems. Through facility tours, technology demonstrations and mentorship, these organizations are engaging students to help them discover the answers to some of these challenges.

While addressing a class of students from Lincoln High School in San Jose, Alexa Dembek, CTO of DuPont said, “We’re excited about solving problems and bringing the future state of electronics, clean water and food to life through science, engineering, and technology. To do this, we need sharp, passionate, and creative people who are excited to make an impact on the world and achieve their full potential.”

To familiarize student teams with the spectrum of environmental problems and their root causes, these FlexFactor students also participate in an informational tour with the Santa Clara Valley Water District where students learn about the steps involved in resourcing, purifying, and delivering clean water to residents. Resulting from this interaction, the students discover a newfound appreciation and understanding of just how much technology and infrastructure is required to deliver clean water to every building in the service area.

“I always wanted to help make a difference in the environment, but until I toured DuPont’s Innovation Center in Sunnyvale, I didn’t realize that the best way to do that is with new technologies. I thought that manufacturing was the kind of thing that actually hurts the environment, but when I saw all the ways that new types of materials can actually help us reduce greenhouse gases, I realized that technology is actually a good thing for the environment,” commented Stacey, a junior at Lincoln High School.

In addition to critical familiarization activities, the students in the Morgan Family Foundation FlexFactor program are also enrolled at Evergreen Valley College, where they learn about the range of education pathways that will provide them with the skills necessary to develop, design, manufacture, and market the next-generation technologies that will address these problems in the future.

Through FlexFactor’s immersion and experiential approach to learning, FlexFactor helps inspire and orient young people to the pathways that will allow them to become the leaders of the future, and gives them the confidence to tackle the biggest problems facing our world — one step at a time.