A Young Engineer’s Perspective on Joining the Industry


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Audra Thurston, a process engineer at Calumet Electronics Corporation, talks about being an intern transitioning out of college and into the PCB industry. She gives her advice to other college students pursuing engineering and gives her view on the aging workforce and IPC student chapters.

Nolan Johnson: Audra, I’m interested to learn how you came to be a part of this industry. Who do you work for, and what is your role?

Audra Thurston: I came to Michigan Tech to get my chemical engineering degree. At that point, I didn’t even know that a chemical engineer could work with PCBs; I thought you exclusively had to be an EE. But I learned that was not the case when I started looking for an internship in the area of Houghton, Michigan. I started as an intern at Calumet Electronics—about 20 minutes from Michigan Tech—the summer before I graduated. I came out of that internship with the desire to work with PCBs as a full-time career. Then, Calumet Electronics hired me after I graduated in 2018 to work as a process engineer, which is still my current role.

Happy Holden: What struck you about PCBs and led you to want to work with them?

Thurston: The industry keeps you on your toes, and if you stay in the industry, you will continually learn because of the pace of change in electronics is rapid. There are other career options for chemical engineers, such as paper making, but that wasn’t as interesting to me because paper making probably isn’t going to change much in the next 20 years compared to how much electronics is going to change in the next two years. I felt like I could be a part of cutting-edge technology.

Holden: There has never been a dull moment in my almost 50 years in the industry. And for younger people like you, it’s going to be even more challenging and fast-paced.

To read this entire interview, which appeared in the November 2019 PCB007 Magazine, click here.

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