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12 PCB007 MAGAZINE I NOVEMBER 2018 manufacturing technologies. Then, imagine the opportunity to earn college credit by par- ticipating in an entrepreneurial program that challenged you to conceptualize a new prod- uct introduction using this technology to solve a human health issue or develop a perfor- mance monitoring program where you would pitch your idea in a similar way to the business show "Shark Tank." Wouldn't that be fun! One exciting program that fosters this type of imagination and creativity in high schools is the NextFlex FlexFactor program. Over the past two years, NextFlex—America's Flexible Hybrid Electronics In- stitute—has built and scaled an innovative educational program designed to create a pipeline of young people excited about and prepared for the advanced man- ufacturing careers of tomorrow. Emily McGrath, deputy direc- tor of workforce development at NextFlex, describes the pro- gram: "The FlexFactor platform assembles all the actors in the labor market to allow students to visualize their future and un- derstand the educational path- ways to make that future a re- ality. Through an amazing im- mersion experience, students, schools, higher education, and companies interact and bring ad- vanced technologies and entrepre- neurship into the classroom in a project-based learning approach that fits in any class, any subject, anywhere. Students leave the pro- gram convinced that they can and should be part of solving the big problems of our time and well into the future." Through FlexFactor, students are exposed to the vast range of profes- sional opportunities in the advanced manufacturing sector. Skills needed for a career in industry are revealed in a way that is appealing and fun where student teams address a wide range of real-world problems—from cancer treatment and head trauma, to waste management and lunch lines. The conceptual- ized hardware solutions developed by students often feature an incredible array of revolution- ary technologies, including advanced func- tional fabrics, Internet of Things (IoT) devic- es, cloud technology, augmented reality, flex- ible hybrid electronics, and more. A few fun examples of creative applications utilizing flexible hybrid electronics include Fast Asleep—a small wristband that would fit snug- Figure 2: Students visit Jabil's Blue Sky Center to learn about advanced technologies and applications. (Source: NextFlex) Figure 3: Students design, print, and test flexible circuits in NextFlex's cleanroom to learn what it's like to work with next-generation technologies in the advanced manufacturing sector. (Source: NextFlex)

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