The IPC Education Foundation was fortunate to attend two events in the Milwaukee area. Wendy Gaston, business development manager, represented the IPC Education Foundation at these events, and it was wonderful to learn more about her experiences at them.
Attending conferences and events always contributes to establishing relationships with new clients, reconnecting with old ones, and learning more about new trends and opportunities for growth. It has been wonderful to learn that things are increasingly returning to the way they were before the pandemic. The eagerness to attend meetings, events, and conferences in-person has brought a new appreciation to being present and making the most of human connection.
The first event was the Manufacturing Inspirations Day organized by Jim Michlig, college, career, and experiential learning coordinator; Michelle Grajkowski of Wisconsin Business World; Krisann Durnford from Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism; Dustin Lehman from Mukwonago Area School District; and Tom Hermann from Southwest Milwaukee Consortium. It was hosted by Muskego High School in April.
The second event was at IPC SummerCom, and was co-located with the Electrical Wire Processing Technology Expo (EWPTE) in May, the industry’s exclusive trade show for decision-makers who design, specify, purchase, install, sell, maintain or manufacture electronic cable assemblies, cord sets, wiring harnesses, and other related products.
The following is an interview I conducted with Wendy about the events.
Charlene Gunter du Plessis: Please provide us with an overview of Inspiration Manufacturing Day?
Wendy Gaston: Monday evening I participated in a networking event where the representatives of the companies attending the Inspiration Manufacturing Day met and learned more about the companies involved and details of the next day’s event. We were introduced to students representing Muskego High School. It was a very well-organized event. The IPC Education Foundation donated 80 sets of Bose headphones to the schools who participated in the Inspiration Manufacturing Day.
Gunter du Plessis: That is great, Wendy. How many students, teachers, business leaders were in attendance?
Gaston: On Tuesday, over 1,500 students, 30 different business partners, and 13 different school districts participated in this first annual event. It was a huge success as many of the businesses had interactive, hands-on activities to engage and excite students about future careers in manufacturing. I had an opportunity to meet with many students, teachers, and role players in the area.
Gunter du Plessis: What were the key takeaways from attending the Manufacturing Inspirations Day?
Gaston: I was pleased to represent the IPC Education Foundation there. The event gave students a chance to learn about many companies and many jobs in manufacturing in Wisconsin that they might have never had an opportunity to be introduced to otherwise. Many businesses created interactive hands-on activities to engage and excite the students about future careers in manufacturing.
Gunter du Plessis: Do you believe that students who attended the event would consider a career path in electronics?
Gaston: Yes, many were interested by the opportunities in electronics. Many students’ eyes lit up in interest when they realized they could be a part of manufacturing or designing what they use in their everyday life.
Gunter du Plessis: Did you pick up any interesting career conversation themes?
Gaston: Many students had ideas of what career they were interested in but not a path regarding how to learn more about the types of jobs available in the career choice they thought they were interested in pursuing.
Gunter du Plessis: Any highlights you wish to point out?
Gaston: Yes. The highlight of the first annual Manufacturing Inspirations Day was having the opportunity to speak with the students. They have such great energy. The students are very open to new ideas and enjoyed the interactive career fair where they engaged with countless manufacturers from across Wisconsin and learned about the career opportunities available to them.
Gunter du Plessis: Connecting with industry, especially at the EWPTE Show, led to a lot of conversations. If you need to summarize big needs the industry is currently facing, what would that be?
Gaston: First, the great need for employees in the wire harness industry for all types of positions within the companies, and second is supply chain issues.
Gunter du Plessis: What would you say were the highlights of this event?
Gaston: The highlight of EWPTE was walking the exhibition floor, speaking with many different companies who are very interested in the Education Foundation’s mission, and who want to become involved in some capacity. Many were interested in the following options of involvement:
- Host students at your facilities
- Serve on a Career Paths Panel Discussion as panelist
- Support through sponsorship that goes towards events or scholarships
- Volunteer as mentor or instructor
- Present an information webinar to share knowledge about industry careers and opportunities
If you’re interested in learning more about the EWPTE Conference, click here.
We are continuing our efforts to create awareness of the various careers the industry has to offer and we support industry in many ways. Connecting with students and teachers and sharing in their experiences made possible by local industry advocates and representatives, even if it is a facility tour or presenting a webinar, make it easier to impact their lives and potentially encourage them to enter the world of electronics. The possibilities are endless.
Charlene Gunter du Plessis is the senior director of the IPC Education Foundation.