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CHICAGO Students in the Chicago Public School program Education to Careers (CPS-ETC) received IPC certification after participating in a 30-month education in printed circuits manufacturing. The educational program consists of academics, career and technical training, including hands-on work, and real-world career exposure. Students participate in the program as part of their curriculum, while maintaining a full class schedule. The Great Lakes chapter of SMTA helped organize, fund, and run the program, endeavoring to synchronize the curriculum in the schools with standards within the industry. "What we saw was kids learning, and getting 'attaboys' for being trained, but not getting certified," said Terry Jeglum, vice president, technical programming, SMTA Great Lakes chapter, regarding SMTA's need for involvement. SMTA's Great Lakes chapter rectified this by working with IPC, particularly Jack Crawford, IPC director of certification and assembly technology, to adjust and extend training rules to conform to high school schedules.
This is the first program of its kind that the SMTA has run, but David Raby, president, SMTA International, hopes to continue the trend. "Each chapter can pick and choose what programs they run," he said, "but this is a program I'd like to see spread." He commended the efforts of the Great Lakes chapter and said he "will be recommending" other such programs to other regional chapters. When asked if the program would continue in Chicago, Jeglum enthusiastically replied, "You bet! We're absolutely committed." In fact, some students that entered the pilot program have not reached their graduation year yet, so participation is growing yearly.
The students' achievement on the IPC certification test will allow themwith funding from the Great Lakes chapterto obtain certifications upon graduation and enter the SMT field. Jeglum's key idea for the program is that "young adults can get this certification at zero cost to them." Funding came from certifier BEST in Chicago, IPC, the local SMTA chapter, and their contributing vendorsmaking this $4,000 certification profile available to all students completing the program. Richard Wierzbicki, the founder of the collaborative program and teacher at Curie Metropolitan High School, expects interest from the industry in hiring the students after graduation, based on their preparation and demonstrated knowledge. "He has been pursuing this dream for a long time; we helped him realize his dream," said Ross Clark, president, SMTA, Great Lakes chapter. IPC-certified workers entering the field locally may benefit students who are interested in working in SMT fields as well as the employers who might otherwise have to cover the costs of certification. Two instructors in the schools also became IPC-certified to better instruct the students.
SMTA Great Lakes has instituted a matrix of contacts to "match jobs to students," and has secured internship programs as further opportunities. Jeglum noted that they "anticipate most (students) will go into higher education," with fiscal support from a job in the electronics field "at a much higher pay rate" than other jobs. The chapter has seen interest from Atlanta, Minnesota, Los Angeles, and other SMTA chapters interested in creating similar programs. "The biggest logistical problem [they] have now is not funding or interest, but transporting the students to the jobsites," said Jeglum. "Its a groundbreaking model program that's making the community and the industry in the greater Chicago area better," adds Clark.
SMTA's Great Lakes chapter recently wrapped up its Vendor's Day Symposium. Proceeds from this event are earmarked for the CPS-ETC.