As we jump into 2023, we should adopt a “new year, new me” mentality. But have you ever thought how changing to a “new you” could come through volunteering? We just finished up IPC APEX EXPO 2023, where we had many opportunities to give back to our communities. From STEM events to standards groups, there are many ways to grow as individuals while helping others in the manufacturing space. Integrating volunteering into your post-show plan is vital in both pushing the manufacturing space forward and creating a spark in the next generation of problem solvers.
Standards groups provide the building blocks of change within the industry. Without standards, companies are limited in showcasing their product’s acceptability to customers. Standards reassure customers that the product they need is high quality and approved by professionals. As the organization that markets these standards, IPC guides the creation and revision of standards by committees of industry experts for the industry. This process allows for input based on problems and solutions that occur in their everyday jobs. IPC standards provide the industry and world with common ground.
Sometimes these standards groups are formed not just from the workforce. As the IPC Education Foundation has shown, students are welcome and encouraged to join IPC standards groups. By allowing them to join standards groups, students find this opportunity to be a valuable tool in launching their careers. Students within standards groups are given the opportunity to learn and create a real change in their specialty; they provide a new perspective within the manufacturing space.
Volunteering within the manufacturing space doesn’t just have to be limited to renovating standards, however; inspiring the next generation of engineers is an excellent way to create change within our STEM world. With today’s ever-changing technology, a stronger workforce is more important than ever before. We are in dire need of a generation of innovators to create the “factory of the future.”
How will this generation come about? I believe volunteering is one of the most powerful ways to spark interest in the minds of our youth. Some organizations have positioned themselves at the forefront of helping youth in STEM fields, including the IPC Education Foundation (which puts students into the manufacturing space), and FIRST robotics, which opens students’ minds to the world of mechatronics. These organizations are providing students with exciting opportunities that lead toward incredible careers in STEM.
Before I joined my high school FIRST robotics team, I had no idea what an engineer was. I thought an engineer was a super-brained rocket scientist, and I was incredibly intimidated by the thought of becoming someone like that. But as soon as I joined the robotics team, I found out that engineering is a way for real people to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems by creating the change they want to see in our world. My FIRST robotics mentors showed me this; they were real people solving real problems in my community. My mentors had faith in my abilities to design and build a robot that would crush the competition, even when I was sometimes discouraged by my abilities. This faith led me to explore an electrical engineering major in college, where I believe I took on some of our world’s most challenging problems. Without the mentors who volunteered their time with our robotics team, I may have never studied engineering or have been given the opportunity to advocate for the next generation of engineers.
Important points to remember when thinking about volunteering:
1. Why do you want to volunteer?
The first step toward volunteering is finding out why you want to do it. Are you seeking to make a difference within your workspace? Is there something you’ve noticed within your job that needs to change? Do you want to give back to your community? Maybe you noticed something that needs to change, and you want to be the one to make a change. Your answers to these questions will help you determine whether you are longing to put your effort into volunteering.
2. Where do you want to volunteer?
The next step to setting up your post-show plan is to figure out where you are drawn to volunteer. Is there a specific area that you are interested in placing your time? Standards? STEM advocacy? Or is there something else?
3. How will you change the future?
Are you looking to volunteer for selfish reasons, or do you truly want to make a difference in your community? Before you volunteer, think about the time you set aside for the organization and prepare some ideas to help create a change within that organization. Our life experiences can be incredibly vital in helping us form a new perspective toward volunteering, so don’t be afraid to speak up. You will get out of volunteering what you put into it.
How to Volunteer
Reach out. Many organizations are yearning for new expertise to enter the discussion. The IPC Education Foundation is always looking for fresh insight for students heading into careers in the manufacturing space. IPC solicits experts in their fields to provide expertise regarding industry standards. Don’t hesitate to get involved; you could make the next change in the industry.
Volunteering within this industry is necessary to keep it growing. Volunteering spreads ideas, contributes to new developments, and inspires today’s youth to become more than they might believe they can. Volunteering is for everyone, both the overqualified and underqualified. Everyone who volunteers is capable of learning more about their career and themselves as mentors. Maybe it’s time to consider volunteering as part of your plan this year.
This column originally appeared in the February 2023 issue of PCB007 Magazine.