When I first mentioned the FlexFactor program to my students, they were concerned that they would not be able to “invent” anything new because they believed that everything had been invented already. But the program had a few surprises in store for them, showing them that technology holds endless possibilities if they can just picture them.
Being the lead teacher of California’s Santa Teresa High’s Computer Science Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathway means that I need to do more than just teach computer science: I also need to make sure that I give students the academic skills, technical chops, and employability needed for postsecondary and workplace success.
FlexFactor, a workforce development program created by NextFlex, America’s leading Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) institute, has been a boon in helping me provide my students with all the necessary skills they’ll need for any career position—all through a focus on the technology of tomorrow. Through the program, NextFlex sends instructors to classrooms to give short lectures on career readiness, entrepreneurship tips, block diagram development, and business pitch preparation. Students are required to work in teams, develop and pitch a business model idea associated with the use of FHE, and then create a technology with wide applications in health, infrastructure, and other industries. The program also includes field trips to companies like Jabil and DuPont, community colleges like Evergreen Valley Community College, and NextFlex’s headquarters and pilot-line fabrication facility.
Student excitement at an all-time high
As the FlexFactor instructors taught, I could see the students finally become excited about school work and what it means for their futures. Their fears gradually turned into confidence, and as the program progressed, they were able to dive into their respective projects with a fleshed-out plan.
In just a few weeks, my students developed their creativity and brainstorming skills. They had a chance to sit down and really think about world problems and how they could develop solutions for these problems. In particular, the field trip to Jabil helped them make connections between abstract concepts and real-world applications of the technology. Following the field trip, the students were teeming with big ideas. They ended up with potential projects such as headbands to detect epilepsy, sheets with self-adjusting warmth to ensure a good sleep, anxiety relief patches, foldable tents with preset accessories, and military helmets with injury recorders.