The New Chapter: With a Little Help From My (IPCEF) Friends

Hannah_Nelson_300.jpgAbout a year ago, I decided to begin engaging in leadership activities that would both improve my skills and provide opportunities for others to flourish in the electronics field. Soon after, a friend asked if I would be interested in leading our IPC student chapter; I said yes in a heartbeat. Because of COVID shutdowns, our student organization had crumbled, and while I knew I could restore it, I had no clue where to begin. Our chapter advisor suggested I reach out to the IPC Education Foundation (IPCEF).

With that outreach, IPCEF soon became involved and excited about working with our chapter here at Valparaiso University. We discussed ways our students could grow through professional development, networking events, and technical skill advancements. We organized a kickoff meeting to determine interest and since then, our chapter has grown exponentially as students have learned the importance of engaging in the electronics industry.

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Figure 1: Hannah Nelson at a soldering event.

As we began hosting campus events, I quickly realized just how important our organization was for students. We have a limited number of available courses, which means that information and processes of the electronics manufacturing industry are not easily accessible to us. Through our connection with IPCEF, our chapter has bridged the gap between the university curriculum and the expectations and skills we need to work in the industry. IPCEF offers several courses in its mini library related to technical subjects; these are incredibly valuable to electrical engineering students. Because of what I have learned in IPCEF’s video courses, I have been able to instruct my fellow students in chapter meetings about the electronic manufacturing process. Our students now know how to solder, design a PCB, and even create a wire harness because the Foundation provides the educational experience for students.

Taking the Next Step
I worked closely with IPCEF over several months. During that time, I was encouraged to apply for two opportunities: the student member scholarship and the Emerging Engineer position. Not long after applying, I was selected as a scholarship recipient and was invited to interview for the Emerging Engineer program. I was ecstatic. Not only was this an opportunity to continue pursuing my vocation through scholarship, but if accepted into the Emerging Engineer program, I could attend IPC APEX EXPO. I saw this as an opportunity to grow my technical skills and my professional network.

I approached my interview for the Emerging Engineer program with confidence regarding our IPC student chapter goals, which included expanding our membership and professional opportunities. As the interview concluded, they strongly recommended that I apply for the student director position on the IPC Board of Directors. I hesitated because I didn’t think I had the qualifications. Just as I was about to let the opportunity go, IPCEF reached out to me again and encouraged me to apply. I realized that I was selling myself short and limiting my potential to grow in leadership. So, I applied, and when the votes were counted, I was selected. Because the staff at IPCEF had faith in me, I knew I could provide the same level of faith and trust in my own leadership team and abilities.

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Figure 2: Hannah Nelson with IPC President and CEO John Mitchell at IPC APEX EXPO 2022.

It has been an amazing year for me. In early January, I was accepted into the Emerging Engineer program and attended IPC APEX EXPO 2022, where I networked with professionals from around the world, sharing the important work of IPCEF. I frequently spoke about my passions and investment in this industry. I attended committee meetings, board dinners, and several professional development courses—all increasing my awareness of the electronics industry. I learned just how vast the industry is by exploring the different processes that go into electronics manufacturing and standards. There have been several individuals who devoted their time, teaching me about the industry and helping me grow professionally. Being surrounded by individuals who want me to thrive within the industry has helped me focus on developing a similar culture within my own student chapter.

Want to Help?
What IPCEF has done for me can and will happen for so many other students throughout the country. I know these students can follow their passions and create substantial change within our industry. They will fill the gap in the workforce with their skills, knowledge, and desire to build the industry. I know they will flourish in projects, leadership, course work, and their future careers. When I first started college, I was one of just two female freshmen pursing a degree in electrical engineering. At first, I felt like an outsider, but once I connected with IPCEF, I found my purpose. I plan to help other young women find that same passion. I’ve seen how a simple email to IPCEF started me on a path I never imagined as I have grown my passion for learning, teaching, and leading.

To students who are reading this, follow your passions, even if it seems out of the ordinary. Don’t be scared to share your ideas because they might make a difference in your organization or the people around you. I know this because it changed my life. If you already work in the industry and want to help our next generation, please reach out. Wendy Gaston is the IPCEF liaison between companies and student chapters. She can be reached at WendyGaston@ipc.org. Let’s all continue to move this work forward.

This column originally appeared in the August 2022 issue of PCB007 Magazine.

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2022

The New Chapter: With a Little Help From My (IPCEF) Friends

09-06-2022

About a year ago, student Hannah Nelson began engaging in leadership activities that would both improve her skills and provide opportunities for others to flourish in the electronics field. Soon after, a friend asked if she would be interested in leading their IPC student chapter. "I said yes in a heartbeat," Hannah says. Because of COVID shutdowns, their student organization had crumbled, and while she knew she could restore it, she had no clue where to begin. That was, at least, until her chapter advisor suggested reaching out to the IPC Education Foundation (IPCEF). That's when the momentum happened.

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The New Chapter: My Time on the IPC Board of Directors—Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

08-04-2022

At Joe O’Neil’s Hall of Fame ceremony in January, he talked about his first IPC APEX EXPO. He said he felt he was sitting at a table with the “giants of industry.” That analogy perfectly describes how I felt during my tenure on IPC’s Board of Directors. Each time we met, I had the distinct feeling that I was conversing with today’s giants. In this column, Paige reflects on how she was selected as a student director and the influence she was able to make on the board.

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The New Chapter: My Interview With Happy Holden

07-06-2022

This past year, I set up several informational interviews with individuals across the industry. I saw this as an avenue to both enhance my own career and provide insight for my peers. To that end, I had the incredible honor of interviewing Happy Holden, the father of HDI PCBs. His insight into what it takes to be an excellent engineer and grow exponentially in this industry is unrivaled.

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The New Chapter: Simple Secrets for Effective Mentorships

05-23-2022

Mentoring the next generation is a hot topic in the industry, as many are asking what needs to happen for the electronics industry to maintain young talent. How do we close the tribal knowledge gap that persists across several generations? One way to better understand the needs of up-and-coming engineers is through mentorship programs. According to the Mentor Coach Foundation, 79% of millennials report mentorship as being crucial to their career success. Further, one of the top reasons millennials leave their current position is due to “lack of learning and development opportunities.” Creating an active environment for young professionals to learn and grow professionally throughout their career can drastically affect retention in these positions.

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The New Chapter: Prepping for an Internship? Three Tips to Shore Up Your Skills

05-09-2022

When I first logged onto my computer in summer 2021, I was beyond nervous. I had just accepted the role of corporate intern at Caterpillar Inc., where I would be working on the product service development team. As I started my internship, I felt like I didn’t know anything—and I mostly didn’t. The scariest part for me was thinking I would be expected to perform a job I didn’t have the knowledge or experience for. But that first day made me realize that I wasn’t expected to know everything. I was there to learn.

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The New Chapter: Our Introduction to the Electronics Industry

03-22-2022

IPC’s Board of Directors previous student liaison, Paige Fiet, and current student liaison, Hannah Nelson are combining their talents as new columnists for I-Connect007. Through their column, they will share their thoughts and experiences as student engineers and the transition to the workforce. In this first column, they discuss their backgrounds in the electronics industry and their position on the Board of Directors.

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