Foundations of the Future: Creating Industry Awareness and Access Points for Students

charlene-gunter-du-plessis.jpgThe mission of the IPC Education Foundation (IPCEF) is to create awareness of the careers the electronics manufacturing industry has to offer students in high school and college by providing them with opportunities to access people, courses, and knowledge.

Awareness and access are the key focus areas for 2021 and the programs, activities, and efforts driven by IPCEF will put students and teachers at the forefront. We have identified the following pillars under each focus area:

  • Awareness will include virtual learning opportunities around industry-relevant topics for high school students, available this fall. These activities will be supported by downloadable learning activities with detailed descriptions for classroom implementation, a bill of materials list for hands-on exercises, and free industry-relevant videos. Pre-recorded career panel discussions on career exploration and information about the industry will also be provided.
  • Access to the industry focuses on two main pillars: The IPC Student Chapter Program and IPC Mini Libraries, the new addition to the Foundation. 

IPC Student Chapters
The IPC Education Foundation’s Student Chapter Program focuses on providing scholarships, offering relevant industry content, and assisting with career readiness for its student members. IPCEF has 40 student chapters across 19 states in the United States, engaging more than 500 student members. Twenty-six chapters exist at four-year universities while 15 chapters exist at two-year community/technical colleges.

The main goal of the IPC Student Chapter program is to connect students with the industry through a variety of engagement initiatives that include facility tours, speaking opportunities, and information sessions. To learn more about how to get involved from an employer perspective, please complete this three-question survey.

To be eligible for membership, student members must be pursuing degrees in the following disciplines: electrical, electronics, mechanical, computer, technology, chemical, aerospace, and/or broad engineering. IPCEF has student members pursuing certificate programs, two-year degrees, four-year degrees, master’s, and doctorates. To learn more, click here or contact Aaron Birney,

The Foundation will continue to expand the reach of the program by growing the number of chapters in the United States with plans to expand internationally in 2021.

Scholarships and Awards
IPCEF awarded $25,000 in scholarships to IPC Student Members in 2020 and $23,000 in 2019. Last year, the scholarship recipients were members at the following IPC Student Chapters: Auburn University, Binghamton University, Colorado School of Mines, Gwinnett Technical College, Michigan Technological University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Purdue University, Triton College, University of California Irvine, University of California Los Angeles, University of Maryland, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, University of New Orleans, University of Utah, and Valparaiso University. Each IPC Student Member receives $1,000 designed not only to reduce the financial burden, but also to encourage students to enhance their knowledge and skills of real-world industry-related experiences. To learn more about the scholarship winners, click here.

The Foundation aims to provide scholarships to 50 deserving student members in 2021, while expanding the scholarship program to include:

  • Travel grants to attend IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego in 2022
  • A leadership scholarship open to IPC Student Members currently serving in a leadership capacity at the IPC Student Chapter level

IPC Mini Libraries
This new program is designed to provide students with valuable industry-related knowledge through specific online IPC resources and content. The educational content will allow students to increase their current knowledge while better preparing to enter the workforce. Students will have access to a variety of videos on topics that include electronic assembly, soldering, ESD, and wire assembly, as well as introductory courses; all are accessible online. Students will receive a badge upon completion. 

IPC’s “full” library contains 78 industry-developed training videos for the electronics manufacturing and assembly industry. This is a complete library of operator-level training videos that provide the foundational knowledge required for ESD (electrostatic discharge) control, hand soldering, IPC-A-610 acceptance criteria, rework and repair, components, cable and wire assembly, and more. The cost of the full library is $2,500.

We responded to the request by high schools/technical community colleges for a focused set of videos by creating seven separate “mini” libraries for this purpose. Each mini library contains six to 10 pre-selected videos on the designated topic, priced at $1,200. Topics include electronics assembly inspection, ESD fundamentals, hand soldering and rework—PTH and SMT, intro to electronics assembly (pre-employment training, intro to wire assembly), and others.

By equipping students with valuable industry-related knowledge through specific online IPC resources and content, IPCEF hopes to address some of the industry’s needs:

  • Lack of awareness of the careers and skills needed to participate in those careers
  • Shortage of qualified technical candidates because not enough skilled younger workers are entering the electronics industry
  • An aging workforce
  • Lack of job preparedness, as many schools are not teaching the students the right curriculum related to industry and career readiness 

This summer, we will be reaching out to high schools (preferably vocational high schools), technical community colleges, and universities to participate in various IPCEF programs. Our goal is to share relevant industry content with students that will not only create awareness but allow them to better understand the skills needed to pursue and access viable career opportunities. Contact Charlene Gunter du Plessis, senior director, IPCEF, at

This column originally appeared in the May 2021 issue of SMT007 Magazine.



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