Foundations of the Future: Student Representative on the IPC Board of Directors

charlene-gunter-du-plessis.jpgThe establishment of IPC Student Chapters at universities and technical community colleges has led to the discovery and engagement of an emerging workforce interested in careers in the electronics manufacturing industry.

These students are eager to learn more about the industry and engage with IPC member companies to understand the skills needed to get a job. With that in mind, IPC’s Board of Directors decided to add a full voting board seat to an IPC Student Member. The IPC Education Foundation developed the nomination process with the IPC Chapter Advisors along with the election. Every IPC Student Member had a vote.

Paige_Fiet_headshot.jpgWe are proud to announce that Paige Fiet, president of the IPC Student Chapter at Michigan Technological University, was elected as the first IPC Board of Directors Student Member Liaison.

Paige is pursuing an electrical engineering degree with a biomedical application. She is currently a summer employee at Calumet Electronics, an IPC member company, developing a deeper understanding of PCB manufacturing. I reached out to Paige to ask her a few questions about this exciting opportunity [1], and she responded, “This is an honor for me to have been chosen, and I feel like I will get invaluable experience and insight into the inner-workings of IPC! I hope to convey the needs of the students to the Board of Directors. I also intend to learn how to better reach the IPC Student Members and show them how involvement with IPC can benefit them.”

With the addition of the Student Liaison to the IPC Board of Directors, I thought it was a good time to connect with Dr. John Mitchell, president and CEO of IPC, and Shane Whiteside, CEO of Summit Interconnect and chair of the IPC Board of Directors about this decision and what this new role entails [2]. Here is the full interview I conducted with Shane Whiteside.

Charlene Gunter du Plessis: What are the goals and aspirations of the IPC Board of Directors?

Shane_Whiteside.jpgShane Whiteside: The Board supports the organization, looks after the interests of its members, and makes sure that the strategy, direction, and financial operations of the organization are executed in a manner that benefits our members.

Gunter du Plessis: As the newly elected chairman of the IPC Board of Directors, what makes our organization's mission powerful for you?

Whiteside: I have been honored to be part of the IPC Board of Directors for almost 15 years and have seen the organization broaden significantly. What was once an organization of standards and a trade show is now influencing education and advocacy throughout the industry. We have really evolved and improved the training and certification programs, which put more emphasis on the globalization of our association to benefit all members. Operating on a global scale provides equal influence for everybody, no matter where the industry operates and which products are being built.

Gunter du Plessis: What interests you most about our organization?

Whiteside: I’m honored to be part of the IPC Board of Directors because of how it has developed and scaled to become influential around the world. The somewhat newer initiatives in the areas of government relations, training, and certification have transformed the organization to represent the entire electronics supply chain from raw material suppliers throughout to OEMs. The progress in these areas continues to improve each year.

Gunter du Plessis: What was the highlight of your career thus far?

Whiteside: Learning from different experiences and working with so many interesting people has been the highlight of my career thus far. I have worked for years putting together great companies in the PCB industry, previously with TTM Technologies and now Summit Interconnect. I take a lot of pride in the accomplishments of growing these companies.

Gunter du Plessis: As president and CEO of Summit Interconnect, what advice do you have for young professionals, especially students, in finding a job?

Whiteside: My advice is to find a job that aligns with what you’d like to do in your life long-term rather than finding a job for right now. Your school education may be over, but your lifelong education is just beginning. The skills that are going to help you advance in your career aren’t taught in the classroom but will be taught by the company and managers that you work for in your first job. It is important to find something that aligns with what you think you want to do long-term in order to achieve success. I advise you to ask questions during your interview process to try to assess the company culture, the personality style of your managers, and the people who are interviewing you to determine if the job is worth pursuing or if it would be better to pursue other opportunities.

Gunter du Plessis: How important is it to you to provide young professionals like Paige the opportunity to serve in this capacity?

Whiteside: The Board of Directors is excited to have a voice for the new constituency of university students that are interested in a career in the electronics supply chain. We certainly feel that Paige will have a great individual experience, but we look forward to learning more about what influences the students. The Board of Directors has a lot of diversity representing the electronics supply chain, but most of the members are late-career professionals, needing to think back many years to determine what would appeal to students. I look forward to Paige’s contributions and the ability to provide a fresh voice in this new focus area for IPC.

Gunter du Plessis: Define “servant leadership” in your own words.

Whiteside: Servant leadership becomes increasingly important as you get higher in an organization. To me, it means you align your leadership style and actions so that everything you do is for the purpose of supporting the organization and its stakeholders. Servant leadership is looking at your organization and supporting it as an entity that is going to continue to evolve after you are no longer the leader. The leader has to look after its best interest and long-term growth. It is certainly the leadership style that I strive for, and it is important for the long-term success of any organization.

Gunter du Plessis: As a professional, what do you think are the emerging technologies over the next five years?

Whiteside: Our industry is focusing on several emerging technologies. One perpetual trend is increasing circuit density. The processes to create and deliver increased circuit density is going to continue to evolve. Another trend is the hybridization of printing technology and circuity formation. We can casually term it “printed electronics.” There is an application gap between traditional printed electronics, PCBs, and other types of circuity, and that gap will start to close over time. The evolution of new materials will support increased digital speeds and improve RF/microwave performance. Adding to that will be the integration of connectors, cables, and components to move signals faster, reduce the size, and use less power. The evolution of the cohesive approach to design at the appliance level will continue to push this technology forward.


Thanks to John, Shane, and Paige for participating in these interviews. It is an honor to share these personal insights from our organization’s leadership. We are all working toward the same goal of encouraging students like Paige to pursue a career path within the industry by giving them a voice.


  1. IPC, “Interview with Paige Fiet: IPC Board of Directors Student Member Liaison,” June 1, 2020.
  2. IPC, “Interview with IPC Leadership: Board of Directors,” June 15, 2020.

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



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