Williams employees lend guidance, expertise at STEM workshop

Staff Reports

k-ballard-panoEarlier this month, Pittsburgh-area Williams employees volunteered their time and knowledge to help 132 local students prepare for the fourth annual Williams Fluid Power Challenge, a two-part competition facilitated by SMC Business Councils designed to generate interest among middle school students in the study of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The first part of the Williams Fluid Power Challenge is a workshop day where four-person teams learn about the two types of fluid power: pneumatics (gas) and hydraulics (liquid).  Students learn from Williams engineers and other STEM-focused experts the various ways both are used to power functional machines. And of course, as part of this introduction, safety is a major focal point.

During the workshop portion of the Challenge, the students learn mostly about pneumatics. However, for the actual competition (usually about six to eight weeks after the workshop), participants use hydraulics, applying their new-found knowledge to build and test their own machines against other teams in the Challenge.

As a local and national leader in supporting STEM and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) initiatives, this is the fourth year Williams has sponsored the Williams Fluid Power Challenge in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Williams also sponsors this same event in nearby Fayette and Westmoreland counties. And with each passing year, interest and participation from schools and students continues to grow.

Interest has grown so much that, because of limited space in current host venues, registration is being capped and interested students must be turned away. With this in mind, Williams and SMC Business Councils are working together to find ways to accommodate more students and foster their enthusiasm for learning about STEM and applying their knowledge in a practical manner.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of the teams from the February 2 workshop at the Union Brotherhood of Carpenters training center in Pittsburgh. Be sure to check back after the March 23 Challenge Day to see how these local students faired in the Williams Fluid Power Challenge.