IPC Education Foundation: STEM and Online Learning Resources


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Nolan Johnson recently caught up with Charlene Gunter du Plessis, senior director of the IPC Education Foundation, about how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting the IPCEF, including how they are continuing to connect with IPC Student Chapter members and seek industry support. Charlene also discussed the increased usage of IPCEF’s online educational modules and shares STEM resources.

Nolan Johnson: Charlene, have the government-issued virus containment orders caused you to change the way you do things?

Charlene Gunter du Plessis: One of our main goals is to bring students and electronics industry professionals together. In the past, that has meant in-person visits, which will need to change in the near future. It has significantly impacted our student chapter members networking with IPC members and essentially halted chapter meetings. We had planned hands-on activities at Vex, FIRST, and SkillsUSA, but all of those events have been canceled or postponed. Right now, we’re focusing on ways to share the knowledge and experience of the industry through online channels.

Overall, our greatest concern has to be the health and welfare of our colleagues and students. We are concerned about how long this will go on, and I think everyone shares that concern. People are resilient, and when a challenge like this happens, we will find creative ways to get things done. We may see some game-changing outcomes because we have to think about things a little differently.

Johnson: What message are you sending to IPC Student Chapter members?

Gunter du Plessis: We’re sharing our existing online content with our IPC Student Chapter members, and we have seen an uptick in usage. These educational modules cover important industry-related topics on hand soldering, mechanical assembly, wire harness assembly methods, component identification, component color codes and terminology training, and surface-mount joint quality standards, as well as an overview of electronics assembly. 

Johnson: Do you know of any STEM-related or skills-building educational resources?

Gunter du Plessis: LinkedIn Learning has been a great educational tool. Other resources are available at udacity.com, udemy.com, and mooc-list.com, and IPC offers online courses for professionals here.

Besides the educational modules we have available to IPC Students Chapter members, we also provide them access to a list of STEM resources (A–Z) that connects them with valuable content for referencing or enhanced learning purposes. We also have some new resources we’ve been developing that we’ll be able to share soon.

Johnson: Is there anything else you would like to share with the industry?

Gunter du Plessis: We want to accomplish so many things, but we rely on industry support. The industry is working through this crisis like everyone else. We’ve all be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, but the IPCEF remains true to our mission of sharing the great opportunities in electronics manufacturing with the emerging workforce. We’ll do that virtually for now, and when it’s appropriate, we’ll host hands-on events to connect students and industry professionals.

Johnson: Charlene, thank you very much for your time and for sharing those resources. I’m sure our readers will appreciate it.

Gunter du Plessis: Thanks for the opportunity, Nolan.

Charlene Gunter du Plessis is the senior director of the IPC Education Foundation.

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