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FHE PRO: A New Workforce Development Program from NextFlex

Earlier this year, NextFlex launched FHE PRO, a professional training program that complements existing programs targeted to middle and high school students (FlexFactor®) and university students (Learn and Earn). Lockheed Martin, a Tier 1 NextFlex member, helped guide the development of FHE PRO and brought a team of technologists from across the organization to participate in the inaugural program at the NextFlex Technology Hub in San Jose, California. Their objective was to learn how Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) technology can be integrated into product designs to reduce size, weight, power requirements, and cost, and to increase manufacturing efficiencies of next-generation products.

This customizable, multi-day training program is designed to build FHE awareness and knowledge, and foster creativity and cross-functional collaboration through immersion in the world of FHE manufacturing processes and applications. The program is based on experiential and team-based learning techniques and helps companies deepen the knowledge base of their employees. Through a series of theory-based lectures, hands-on technical activities, and design challenges, participants gain valuable information on FHE materials and applications, how to improve system design and manufacturing efficiencies, and about the potential of this technology to transform the design, production, and function of advanced products.

At the pilot in January, the program began with an in-depth overview of FHE materials and manufacturing processes. Afterward, participants had the opportunity to apply their knowledge through a series of hands-on activities in the NextFlex Technology Hub, where they demoed equipment and materials and conducted several electrical tests. The program closed with a design thinking challenge where cross-functional teams explored how the potential of FHE technology can overcome design challenges, address gaps in fielded capabilities, improve system metrics, and transform leading-edge products.

One participant noted, “Learning about the range of FHE technology, including what is currently available and what will be available in the future, was very useful. It provided a direction and opportunity to pull FHE into new designs and to see how it can be integrated to solve current problems.” Further, she said she will be able to find new ways to use FHE to find “flexible, low-cost, and space saving solutions” in her work as a result of the training.

Malcolm Thompson, NextFlex Executive Director, closed the session by commenting, “We are very excited to offer a training program designed for professionals that deepens both theoretical and practical knowledge of FHE development and application. These participants left with new ideas about how to integrate FHE into their products and that is what we wanted to achieve.”

The next FHE PRO will be held on April 1 in conjunction with the FHE Applications for Aerospace Workshop at the Boeing facility in Seattle, WA. If you are interested in learning more about FHE PRO, please see our FHE PRO page or contact Brynt Parmeter, Director of Workforce Development at NextFlex, at gparmeter@nextflex.us.

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