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NFPA Fluid Power Challenge

NFPA Fluid Power Challenge   

The NFPA Fluid Power Challenge is a competition that challenges eighth grade students to solve an engineering problem using fluid power. They work in teams to design and build a fluid power mechanism, and then compete against other teams in a timed competition. The NFPA Fluid Power Challenge: NFPA Fluid Power Challenge logo
red arrow bullet  Challenge


  • Actively engages students in learning about fluid power.
  • Gives support and resources to teachers for science and technology curriculum.
  • Creates a learning environment where math and science are fun.
  • Encourages students to acquire a diversity of teamwork, engineering and problem-solving skills.
  • Introduces eighth graders to careers in the fluid power industry.
  • Helps build a strong workforce for tomorrow.


The NFPA Fluid Power Challenge is featured in a documentary produced by Milwaukee Public Television (MPTV). The half-hour documentary, "Blueprint for Tomorrow's Education," explores how schools, businesses and communities are working together to prepare students for the 21st century workplace. It highlights four Milwaukee area programs that emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
      Also included in the documentary are Bay View High School's construction, architecture, and technology (BAT) academy; Burlington High School's BHS Chemicals Company; and the "green" garage partnership between Bradley Tech High School, Lowe's Foundation, the Helen Bader Foundation and Growing Power.

The NFPA Fluid Power Challenge consists of a Workshop Day and a Challenge Day.

Workshop Day
During the Workshop Day, the teams learn about fluid power by building a pneumatic lifter and develop the skills they will need for the competition. At the end of the Workshop Day, they take their kits, including tools and supplies, back to school. Over the next few weeks, the teams work on the Challenge scenario and design, develop a portfolio, and build and test a prototype for their fluid power mechanisms. 

Challenge Day
The teams come together again on Challenge Day. They use the same tools and an identical kit of supplies to recreate their unique mechanisms, which they use in the competition to pick up weighted objects, and place them on a platform. Teams are graded in a number of areas, including total points, portfolio ideas, design and teamwork.

Through the Challenges, NFPA hopes to encourage students to select more mathematics and science courses in their high school curricula and to keep their options open for technology-based post-secondary studies.


What will you need to participate?

  • A team, or multiple teams, of four students (at least two girls per team preferred)
  • A desire to learn about hydraulics and pneumatics

The NFPA Fluid Power Challenge can be held as an "event" competition at schools, universities or fluid power companies (as described above), or in a classroom setting. For further information, contact Lynn Beyer, Workforce Program Manager, at or (414) 778-3364.

Support upcoming NFPA Fluid Power Challenges

Your support is necessary to bring this innovative program to students. Individual donations are welcome. Industry sponsorship is also an excellent opportunity for companies to participate in this valuable program while helping to generate interest in fluid power at the very important middle school level.

orange arrow bullet  Support the Challenge  

See highlights from past Challenges

orange arrow bullet  2010 NFPA Fluid Power Challenge
orange arrow bullet  2009 NFPA Fluid Power Challenge
orange arrow bullet  December 2008 NFPA Fluid Power Challenge
orange arrow bullet  May 2008 NFPA Fluid Power Challenge


Watch the NFPA Fluid Power Challenge in action 
(clip from MPTV's documentary "Blueprint for Tomorrow's Education")

Watch the Challenge Competition 
(clip from MPTV's documentary "Blueprint for Tomorrow's Education") 

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