Looking back on our second year, the IPC Education Foundation (IPCEF) takes pride in how we how we adjusted our engagement initiatives during the pandemic. We couldn’t rely on our original strategy of hosting and attending a range of in-person activities and events. So, we shifted our focus and launched a variety of digital and virtual engagement activities to share information about the electronics manufacturing industry with students, teachers, and anyone else interested in this potential career path.
The Foundation held 10 informative webinars covering a wide range of industry-specific topics, and conducted 28 interviews with IPC student members, IPC Emerging Engineers, industry representatives, and IPC leadership to share knowledge about career paths into the industry; this led to blog posts, articles, and social media campaigns. The Foundation successfully reached more than 110,000 individuals and engaged with more than 5,500 individuals through these activities.
But even though we reached a lot of potential talent, we also realized that these online mediums led to several challenges. COVID fatigue is real: Students receive an overwhelming amount of online content from their classes, organizations, and extracurriculars. There is a lot of information out there and students need to be extremely selective on what to attend or register for. My colleague, program manager Aaron Birney, reached out to our student members and the general consensus was that the students desire in-person sessions and would welcome time away from their computer or laptop screens. Student members also shared that they would be more likely to attend virtual events if it would directly impact their personal career journeys.
That was the reason behind the IPC APEX EXPO Career Panel for 2021. It was important to find a group of panelists that has extensive knowledge about the industry from well-known and notable companies. IPC President and CEO John Mitchell led the discussion and was joined by the following industry representatives: Joe O’Neil, CEO, Green Circuits; Sarah Czaplewski, reliability engineer, IBM; Brittney Nelson, product engineer, Cisco; Christina Trussell, production engineer, Blue Origin; Daniel Heitner, process engineer, Summit Interconnect; Paige Fiet, engineering intern, Calumet Electronics; and Jie Fu, design for manufacturing engineering manager, Apple.
The virtual event kicked off with two presentations aimed at informing students and educators of the entire electronics manufacturing industry, and subsequently pique their interests in the emerging technologies. Two IPC Hall of Fame Award winners accomplished this objective: Steve Pudles, CEO, Zentech Manufacturing, shared an overview of the electronics manufacturing industry, and David Hillman, Engineering Fellow, Collins Aerospace, presented, “The Future of the Industry.” Following this, the career panelists shared their personal career journeys, then answered questions from the attendees. The event concluded with a raffle and prizes for a handful of students and educators.
An estimated 624 individuals attended the Career Panel and the feedback we received has been positive. Ninety-four percent of the attendees indicated that they were satisfied with the event and 96% revealed that the information shared was helpful in assisting students with their career journeys. Some additional feedback included:
- “The event was great as we were able to hear from industry leaders with a wide range of experience!”
- “Awesome presentations and panel discussion.”
- “The panelists’ career journey was impactful for students. I would like more emphasis on preparing high school students for STEM-related careers.”
Another valuable lesson the Foundation learned is how important it is to share afterward the information, content, and the discussions of these online events. Recording the panel or webinars has been invaluable for sharing this information to those who cannot attend a live event. We created our own YouTube channel to house past webinars and events for anyone who couldn’t attend—even allowing some educators to replay parts for a class or assign specific videos as supplements to coursework.
Therefore, the lessons learned from our engagement initiatives are:
- Share valuable industry content
- Host an event during a favorable time, making it easy for students and teachers to attend
- Get participation from high profile companies
- Identify knowledgeable speakers, panelists, or participants
- Record the session to share afterward
- Always be willing to receive feedback
For more information about the IPC Education Foundation, please reach out to Charlene Gunter du Plessis, senior director of the IPC Education Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column originally appeared in the May 2021 issue of PCB007 Magazine.