Informing, Inspiring, Attracting, and Recruiting the Future of Advanced Manufacturing.
FlexFactor immerses middle and high school students into the world of advanced manufacturing technology and entrepreneurship. Student teams are challenged to work together to identify a real-world problem that holds value to them, then conceptualize an advanced hardware device, develop a business model and pitch it “Shark Tank” style to a panel of education and industry representatives. Projects have ranged from earlier cancer detection to athlete safety and performance monitoring, to stopgap medical care for wounded soldiers and clean water access for inner-city residents.
“FlexFactor has challenged me to learn in a different way, letting me think of an idea or solution I would’ve never thought of before… FlexFactor challenges me to think outside of the box” Jasmin Morales, Early College High School student.
The programs agile framework allows it to be easily embedded into the classroom and has been implemented in a wide range of subject areas, turning any academic classroom into a career technical education classroom. FlexFactor connects students directly to real-world experiences and they will develop the skills and knowledge needed to successfully transition from high school into employment, enlistment, or post-secondary education pathways.
Lorain County FlexFactor launched in spring of 2018 with 13 students; the 2018 – 2019 academic year will see more than 750 students through the program, with several new districts signing on for the 2019 – 2020 school year.
Geared towards 9th – 12th graders, students spend five-weeks diving into an engaged research program that is structured to be appealing and fun, Through teamwork and intentional interactions with business and education mentors, students will develop professional skills including teamwork, reasoning, communication, and critical thinking, preparing them for the culminating event, their final pitch.
Students will conduct two field trips:
- Students will visit a local manufacturing company and Lorain County Community College.
- Both field trips will provide student teams one-on-one guidance on their project from business & educator mentors.
- Additionally, students will participate in interactive college lectures, workshops, and tour advanced technology labs.
FlexFactor Sprint is a concentrated one-day version of the FlexFactor program and is best used with middle school students. The program can be hosted either at a local manufacturing company or at Lorain County Community College. While condensed, students remain immersed in technology and entrepreneurial and partake in the basic tenets of the program, concluding their day pitching their product to a panel of education and industry representatives. The Sprint version could be extended to a week-long program.
- AgriNomix: Oberlin, OH
- AJ Rose Manufacturing Company: Avon, OH
- Beckett Gas: North Ridgeville, OH
- Blue Spark Technologies: Westlake, OH
- Green Circle Growers: Oberlin, OH
- Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society (HIMSS): Cleveland, OH
- Lincoln Electric: Cleveland, OH
- Lorain County Manufacturing Council
- NASA: Cleveland, OH
- NEOLaunchNET: Elyria, OH
- Ohio College Tech Prep: Elyria, OH
- Ohio Small Business Development Center: Elyria, OH
- Technology Recovery Group (TRG): Westlake, OH
- Thogus Products: Avon Lake, OH
- ToolingU: Cleveland, OH
Engaged Secondary Education Districts:
- Clearview High School
- Columbia Middle School
- Firelands High School
- Lorain County Early College High School
- Lorain County JVS
- Lorain Middle School
- Oberlin High School
What Industry is saying about FlexFactor
- “Through experiential learning, mentorship, and freedom to choose topics of personal interest, FlexFactor capitalizes on the creativity, passion, and fearlessness of youth. Empowering students to lead and innovate as they progress through FlexFactor illuminates not only the career potential of this advanced manufacturing sector, but builds the motivation and confidence students need to take the next steps on their journey" -Dr. Malcom J. Thompson, Executive Director at NextFlex
- "FlexFactor is an innovative outreach program that sheds light on the career potential of the advanced manufacturing sector; motivating students to investigate the various "on-ramps" in education that will prepare them for a rapidly changing workplace. The high level of engagement we saw from the students was encouraging; their projects and presentations were meaningful, thoughtful, challenging, and cutting edge" -Geoff Lipnevicius, Senior Manager of Workforce Development at Lincoln Electric
- "It's exciting to get a glimpse at the next generation's interests, concerns, solutions, and the passion that fuels them. If our recent interaction through the FlexFactor program with Oberlin High School students is any indication, our society will be well served by this clever and dedicated group of young people" -Robert Lando, CEO at AgriNomix
- “One of the biggest challenges for young employees is understanding how different groups interact (engineering, marketing, sales, finance, etc.). FlexFactor is teaching students at an early age how each of these departments need to work together to achieve success” -Tim Good, Director of Medical Device Quality, Blue Spark Technologies
What Students are saying about FlexFactor
“FlexFactor allows students imaginations to run wild, solving problems with futuristic technology we didn’t think was possible! We can impact the future by sharing our ideas and business plan with industry professionals, who can help us bring them to reality.” Ario Thompson, 11th grade Oberlin High School student
"Until we visited our industry partner (Lincoln Electric) I never thought to apply there. FlexFactor showed me a wide range of places I could work after high school. It was an eye-opening experience. If you don't know what you want to do, this program can change you" -Max Bellman, 12th grade Firelands High School student
"Meeting with the mentors at A.J. Rose Manufacturing Co. and LCCC was really neat. They pushed us to figure out the technology behind our product and understand how we could make it work the way we wanted it to, not the way they thought it should be. They pointed us in the right direction and led us to think outside of the box". -Sabian Alvarado, 9th grade Clearview High School
"I liked how I got to create a cool, useful product... My experience with business leaders and mentors has impacted how I work on projects and deal with people" -Samantha Parsons, 9th Grade Lorain County Early College High School student
“I like FlexFactor because it allowed me to learn how a company works and what steps are needed to have a successful business. This program has allowed me to mature and has challenged me in the way of how to solve a problem and how to make it a lasting solution” -Jeremiah Simpson, 9th Grade Lorain County Early College High School student
What Educators are saying about FlexFactor
“FlexFactor has provided an exceptional learning experience, affording students opportunities that meet wide-ranging educational standards for academic, career, and personal/social development. Students learn the value of teamwork, employ their creativity, and hone their research and presentation skills as they develop solutions to real world problems, connecting the classroom to the broader community” -Jamie Bush, Lorain County Early College High School Student Success Lab Instructor
"FlexFactor equals the playing field and advances educational opportunities and achievements for all students. This model program makes students aware of opportunities that lead into high-tech sector jobs and opens new doors into college and career pathways" -Rich Moreck, Instructor Oberlin High School
“We love seeing how this program encourages young people to consider how new technology can solve important social and health challenges. We’re excited for what lies ahead as we partner with additional schools and employers locally to bring FlexFactor to more students, helping them see the opportunity for their own career in our region’s growing innovation economy” -Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D., President, Lorain County Community College
Lorain County FlexFactor In The News
- Crain's Cleveland, May 2019 - FlexFactor Inspires Next-Gen Entrepreneurs
- PCB007 Magazine, April 2019 - Engaging the Future of Advanced Manufacturing
- eCampus News, March 2019 - Check Out This New, Immersive Entrepreneurship Program Engaging Students Across the U.S.
- Dialogues on Education, March 2019 - Podcast: A Strong Career Training Program Grows
- Dialogues on Education, March 2019 - Podcast: Lorain County Links to Silicon Valley for Job Prep Help
- Industry Week, December 2018 - From Dirty and Dark to Gleaming, Futuristic, and Intellectually Challenging
- MEMS Journal, December 2018 - Sensors and FHE Need Each Other: A look inside a key relationship
- PCB007 Magazine, November 2018 - FlexFactor: Imagination and Innovation
- NextFlex News, June 2018 - FlexFactor Completes is Second Year and Expands Nationally
About NextFlex and Flexible Hybrid Electronic Technology
NextFlex is one of nine Manufacturing USA institutes that was developed to revitalize US manufacturing. NextFlex’s mission is to drive acceleration and adoption of Flexible Hybrid Electronics. Flexible Hybrid Electronics will usher in a new era of "electronics on everything." Intelligence will be taken out of the “boxes” or packages associated with traditional electronics like PCs, smartphones and tablets, and transplanted directly onto a variety of surfaces including the human body, enabling an entirely new breed of defense and commercial applications we haven’t imagined. Learn more at the NextFlex Website
LCCC - The first FlexFactor expansion site in the country!
"NextFlex is proud to have LCCC as the first national partner in the expansion of FlexFactor. LCCC is a model for innovative educational approaches that meet the need of both business and industry. ...This industry-facing approach to education ensures students have access to the skill bridges that will take them from high school to employment, and that our educational institutions are able to meet the talent needs of industry." -Emily McGrath, Deputy Director of Workforce Development at NextFlex.
Join the Movement
To learn how you can bring FlexFactor to your school district or business, contact Program Coordinator Deanna Hersko.