One of the most rewarding parts of my job is being able to offer new engineers a leg up early in their career, and I am especially thrilled when I can do it personally. Often, this can be as simple as connecting them with an industry leader. Wonderfully, this was something I was able to do IPC APEX EXPO this past January.
After speaking at the First-Timers’ Welcome Reception, I met an engineer from Blue Origin named Christina Handewith-McCallum who mentioned that it was her first visit to IPC APEX EXPO. She was taking it all in (the exhibition on the show floor, standards meetings, professional development courses, etc.) and was eager to learn about the opportunities available to a newcomer like herself.
That gave me the perfect opportunity to talk to her about IPC’s Emerging Engineer Program, which launched in 2016 (Figure 1). The program provides engineers early in their careers the opportunity to learn about the industry from dedicated IPC volunteers participating in standards development. Emerging engineers receive:
• Mentoring and training to assist in their professional development
• Recognition for themselves and their company
• An all-access package registration to IPC APEX EXPO for three years
• Complimentary registration to IPC SummerCom, featuring Panelpalooza
This all sounded great to Christina, and by the time she left the show, she was signed up as a new IPC emerging engineer complete with a mentor, and we helped her find on location. I know she’s glad she attended the First Timers’ Welcome Reception, and I am too! How else will you find out the nitty gritty about engineering if you don’t talk to those in the field? Career engineers and IPC volunteers provide invaluable knowledge by participating in mentorships for our emerging engineers.
Figure 1: Emerging engineers and their mentors.
And I don’t know who is having more fun—the new engineers who have a front-row seat to decades of knowledge or the dedicated mentors who enjoy sharing their skills and expertise with the future of our industry.
Figure 2: Melby Thelakkaden talks with her IPC Emerging Engineer Program mentor, Vijay Kumar, at IPC APEX EXPO 2019.
Melby Thelakkaden, a process engineer at Raytheon Missile Systems and a year-one emerging engineer, said this about her Emerging Engineer Program experience (Figure 2): “I became interested in the Emerging Engineer Program because I wanted to participate and be more closely involved in the development of IPC standards. Early in my career, I frequently found myself referencing various IPC documents. My mentor, Kathy Johnston, encouraged me to enroll in the program, and after attending a couple of conference sessions, it became clear that being involved will help raise industry awareness. It’s such a great opportunity to represent Raytheon at this international platform.”
It feels good to give back. It is clear to me that the electronics industry has a great future and that we are doing our best to put it into good hands. If you are interested in becoming an IPC emerging engineer or a mentor, visit www.ipc.org/emerging-engineer or email email@example.com.
Dr. John Mitchell is president and CEO of IPC—Association Connecting Electronics Industries.
This article was originally published in the June 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine.