Guest article by Sonja Griffith, FlexFactor Coordinator at Calhoun Community College
Calhoun Community College and The Cap and Gown Project, in partnership with Boeing, have jumped into the virtual classroom this summer. The Cap and Gown Project is a local nonprofit that seeks to provide transformative opportunities for underrepresented secondary school students in Huntsville, AL who wish to pursue college. Through a range of activities and resources, they provide students with opportunities to tour colleges, improve their ACT scores, and engage in STEM education through several different programs. This summer, we implemented FlexFactor into one of these programs during the STEM Summer Institute. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the entire program was conducted virtually.
In the FlexFactor program, students are asked to identify a problem they care about, come up with a hardware solution to help solve that problem, then come up with a business model around that product. This summer, rising 9th and 10th graders worked in teams to conceptualize products using Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) and create a business model to promote their creations, all virtually. The high school students came up with innovations that would monitor Alzheimer/Dementia patients and a needle-less vaccination method, among other things.
As part of the experience, the students took part in a College Day and an Industry Day. The students attended a Virtual College Day at Calhoun Community College to learn about STEM education opportunities, such as advanced manufacturing, health sciences and cybersecurity. For the Virtual Industry Day, they participated in a panel discussion with alumni of the FAME Program with engineers from Toyota to learn about the opportunities in North Alabama. The program culminated with student presentations to members of the Calhoun Community College administration, local business leaders, as well as alumni of the Cap and Gown Project.
When asked what they liked the most about the program, students commented that they liked the real-world applications of the process, as well as the design aspect. One hundred percent of the students said they had a better understanding of how business and technology work together.
We are looking forward to seeing how these students continue in their high school careers and the impact they will have upon the Huntsville community. Thank you to the Cap and Gown Project and Boeing for partnering with Calhoun Community College on the FlexFactor Program.
Calhoun Community College
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