FlexFactor® Completes its Second Year

Education, Manufacturing, STEM, Workforce

NextFlex recently achieved several significant milestones since FlexFactor’s inception. In the program’s second year, NextFlex developed targeted versions to attract a wide variety of students to learn about career possibilities in advanced manufacturing industries that are just emerging and expanded our reach geographically. FlexFactor – a collaborative technology and entrepreneurship program, brings students in elementary, middle, or high school together with higher education, industry, and government, to inform, inspire, attract, and recruit the 21st century workforce. FlexFactor is based on three pillars: exposure to cutting-edge technologies, principals of entrepreneurship, and direct engagement with the education and career pathways leading to the advanced manufacturing sector. And, it’s fun! Students enjoy FlexFactor because it challenges them in new ways and opens their minds to new possibilities.

Students work in small teams to identify a real-world problem, conceptualize a technology-based hardware device that addresses the problem, build a business model for the product and pitch the concept to a panel of representatives in a “shark tank-style” setting. To inform product concepts and business models, students visit a local industry partner to see first-hand what it means to work in advanced manufacturing. Next, they spend a day at a local college or university where they enroll, receive entrepreneurship instruction, and tour the campus. High school students who successfully complete the program earn college credit thereby seeing themselves already successful at making the transition from high school to college or university. For some students, this completely changes the trajectory of their lives.