Inspiring the Next Generation of Industry Leaders: IPC STEM Student Outreach Program


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At IPC APEX EXPO 2019, I spoke with Colette Buscemi, IPC’s senior director for education programs, about the success and expansion of the IPC STEM Student Outreach Program, activities and scholarship opportunities for students through sponsor support—including I-Connect007—and feedback she received on the event. She further addresses other educational opportunities aimed at inspiring the next generation of industry leaders in both high schools and colleges, and the announcement of the new IPC Education Foundation and IPC Education Day on January 31.

Patty Goldman: Colette, let’s start with a little bit about you. You’re new with IPC. Can you tell us about that first?

Colette Buscemi: Absolutely. Thank you for speaking with me. I joined IPC in January of 2018 as the senior director for education programs focused on developing education programs for precollege and post-secondary students with the fundamental goal of helping address the skills gap and workforce issues facing the electronics industry. Before I joined IPC, I was with the Digital Manufacturing Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), which is part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). And before that, I worked for the British government, overseeing the U.K.’s international trade office in the Midwest. I got my start working with a manufacturing trade association based in Chicago, supporting small- to mid-sized manufacturers to improve processes, expand into new markets, and access funding, so in some ways, this opportunity has brought me full circle.

Goldman: We had a very nice program with high school students today here at IPC APEX EXPO 2019. Can you tell me about it?

Buscemi: We just finished this year’s IPC APEX EXPO STEM Student Outreach program, and it was a big success. We had six schools participate from the San Diego region including 100 students and their teachers and instructors. The point of this experience was to expose students to all things electronics within this industry—careers, technologies, and professional development—and to get them to see firsthand that there are a wide range of career opportunities for them to consider and pursue. We had two career panel discussions with representatives from both large- and medium-sized industry leaders including Panasonic, Weller Apex Tools, Calumet, Nordson, and Mycronic as well as IPC’s emerging engineers speak about their experiences and what it took for them to get to where they are today.

The emerging workforce lacks essential industry skills. Over 66% of IPC members have difficulty hiring operators, and 64% of IPC members have difficulty hiring engineers. There is an urgency to collaboratively solve this industry-wide problem that is predicted to grow worse in the decades ahead. IPC and the IPC Education Foundation are uniquely positioned to be part of the solution.

I’m a believer in the “see, think, do” model, and that’s really what this opportunity offers students. The students go through a soldering training experience with industry experts. In addition, they walked the trade show floor with hundreds of exhibitors where they toured IPC member booths. Then, they saw the Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) line, which demonstrates the intersection between digital technology and manufacturing. Each school was also given a $1,000 scholarship. The opportunity to bring these students here was just incredible.

In addition, John Mitchell, president and CEO of IPC, officially announced the launch of the IPC Education Foundation. Further, this day [January 31] has been proclaimed IPC Education Day by Representative Scott Peters from the 52nd congressional district of California, which covers the coastal and central portions of the city of San Diego as well as the suburbs of Poway and Coronado. Cesar Solis from the Congressman’s district office also attended the morning breakfast and welcome session.

To read the full article, which appeared in the Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2019 Show & Tell, click here.

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