The New Chapter

Column from: Hannah Grace & Paige Fiet

Hannah Grace Hannah is a Validation Engineer at Texas Instruments - Tucson, AZ. Hannah graduated from Valparaiso University in 2023 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. While at Valpo, Hannah served on the IPC Board of Directors as the Student Director and was a recipient of the VUAA Distinguished Student Award for the College of Engineering. Hannah was also involved in her IPC and IEEE student chapters. She is in her third year of the IPC's Emerging Engineer program.
Paige Fiet works as a process engineer at TTM-Logan. Paige graduated from Michigan Technological University in 2021 with a bachelor's in electrical engineering. While at MTU, Paige served as IPC’s Student Liaison to the Board of Directors and as president of the IPC and Electronics Club. She now serves as co-chair of the Solder Mask Committee and is in her third year of IPC’s Emerging Engineer Program.

July 08, 2024

The New Chapter: Artificial Intelligence in PCB Design

With the rapid advancements in modern technology, a new era of PCB design is emerging, which includes the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). AI and ML have been all the rage in the news as they are becoming indispensable tools across various industries. Integrating AI and ML into the PCB design process not only elevates workflows and processes but also enhances the reliability and performance of products developed by the electronics industry.
June 12, 2024

The New Chapter: Lessons From the Best Engineer I’ve Ever Known

My dad is the best engineer I’ve ever met, and I’m not just saying this because we’re related. He is the definition of grit, tenacity, and never being satisfied with “I don’t know.” When I was in college, every call consisted of detailed conversations about my calculus classes. He could spit out the equations as if he had just taken the classes the previous week. In fact, my brother jokes that every conversation with him reverts to engineering.
March 28, 2024

The New Chapter: Attracting ‘Generation Green’

In the electronics industry, we talk a lot about sustainability in terms of recruitment and retention of the next generation of engineers. But what if the key to sustaining the industry long into the future is through the more common definition of the word? What if, for just a moment, we think about sustainability in terms of the environment and what we as an industry are doing to care for it? Because, if you weren’t aware, Gen Z cares tremendously about the environment and the actions companies are taking to preserve it. Without Gen Z joining the electronics industry’s workforce, we won’t be able to sustain the industry for much longer.
March 13, 2024

The New Chapter: Dip Your Hand in the IPC APEX EXPO Candy Jar

As IPC APEX EXPO quickly approaches, aligning your agenda with personal and professional development goals is necessary to get the most out of your show week. If 2024 is planned for growth opportunities, whether presenting, expanding your technical repertoire, or learning something new, this show and conference is for you. I see several opportunities that can easily align with those goals.
January 31, 2024

The New Chapter: Easing the Learning Curve for Young Professionals

My first semester of college included a course on engineering fundamentals that focused on teamwork, problem-solving, ethics, and, of course, coding. I had no experience in coding. In fact, downloading the program to my laptop alone almost required visiting the IT department. This class was my second course on my first day of school. Shortly after the introductory speeches, we were asked to write a “simple” code that output the phrase, “Hello World.” Instant panic sets in as my other three team members started typing away. Was I supposed to have learned this in high school?
January 03, 2024

The New Chapter: My Review of Happy Holden’s ‘24 Essential Skills for Engineers’

Happy Holden has been an inspiration to me since I first met him at IPC APEX EXPO a few years ago. He is the father of the modern-day HDI PCB and former CTO at Foxconn. In his book, 24 Essentials Skills for Engineers, Happy highlights the most important and viable skills for an engineer’s success. These skills and traits are ones he saw most frequently throughout his career. They matter for an engineer, no matter where they’re at in their career, from a new hire to a project manager, and I’m excited to review the ones that have resonated with me the most.
November 27, 2023

The New Chapter: Teach the Terminology

Imagine you've just graduated college and are off to start a career at an electronics manufacturer. Week one is filled with meeting the team, orienting your way around the floor, and learning the general flow of PCB manufacturing. Wow, there are so many steps! The next week is off to a similar start but with a team meeting to review a new part. Suddenly, the friendly team you met is speaking what sounds like a foreign language. Words are thrown around, such as buried vias, 370HR, back drill, and routed plated edges. None of these terms were taught during the college education you've just completed. Then, an overwhelming feeling kicks in, and you wonder if you will ever learn to speak this new language as fluently as your team.
November 06, 2023

The New Chapter: Reimagining PCB Design in Education

Lately I’ve been reminiscing about my college classes, especially the ones proving to be the most valuable in my early career. One class that I feel is giving me the upper edge in my new job was an independent study on advanced PCB layout, where I learned about the PCB design and manufacturing processes. In that class, I designed several boards, ranging from antennas to fun kits for students, and learned more about fundamental hardware electrical principles and the mechanics behind a PCB.
September 29, 2023

The New Chapter: The Pros and Cons of Tribal Knowledge

Tribal knowledge is important and quite common in the electronics manufacturing industry—for good reason. Many engineers, technicians, and operators have formed their careers around building PCBs. Some even worked alongside the founding fathers of electronics. Newer, young minds stand on the shoulders of this knowledge base. As a process engineer, I work with operators who have been coating panels with solder mask longer than I’ve been alive. Some know the exact coating parameters required for the toughest of designs. To watch them hand-screen panels is like learning the nuances of a family recipe handed down through generations.
August 31, 2023

The New Chapter: Smoothing the Rocky Road of Onboarding

Imagine you accept a job halfway across the country, move there with no family or friends nearby, and you’re extremely overwhelmed by your living situation. It can be really tough. To be honest, when I first interviewed for my current position, I was excited to move away from my home state of Indiana. I was thrilled about a new adventure on my horizons. When the recruiter gave me the option of moving to Texas or Arizona, I couldn’t have been more delighted than to say, “Send me to the sunny state of Arizona.” But what I didn’t realize is how incredibly lonely and scary it is when you have no one to lean back on in your new surroundings.
July 31, 2023

The New Chapter: Four Steps to Developing an Improvement Process

Just the other day, my colleague and I were discussing the daunting process of creating a quality management system from scratch for a company. He said, “Can you imagine starting up your own company and creating the quality management system? How would you know where to start?” We then began a debate on what processes we would create first and where we would store the database and each of the documents. Thinking about this was, for both of us, overwhelming and fascinating at the same time.
June 27, 2023

The New Chapter: It’s a Brave, New Workforce

What qualities must employers possess to attract and retain some of the brightest talent in today’s ever-changing workforce environment? How can companies reevaluate their hiring processes and offerings to meet those expectations? As the workforce evolves, I believe companies desperately need to change their traditional hiring strategies if they want to attract the next generation, which has different expectations and priorities when it comes to choosing the right career.
May 30, 2023

The New Chapter: A Mini Manufacturing Ecosystem

A manufacturing facility is set up like a miniature business ecosystem. Within it, a product is handed from one department to another, with more features and materials added in each step in the process. Most of the time, one process will greatly affect those that follow it. For example, targets created at an imaging step will verify proper registration in a drill step. Sometimes the effect can be negative, such as when too much warp in a panel at the lamination stages creates downstream issues for imaging.
May 01, 2023

The New Chapter: Effective Strategies for New Hires

How do we retain the best talent with an ever-changing workforce? Employees seem to be switching companies almost as soon as they are hired, which leaves many employers struggling to retain a qualified workforce. I believe the answer lies in a stronger onboarding process that showcases a positive work environment and fosters growth among new hires. Here are four ways that companies can do that.
April 06, 2023

The New Chapter: My Top 5 Skills for Manufacturing Engineers

I love speaking with high school and college students who are looking to join the electronics industry. Their enthusiasm always rejuvenates me. In our conversations, I have noticed several trends in their questions; the most popular is “What are you looking for in a new engineer?” Here is my list of the top five skills I believe any new manufacturing engineering graduate should have before they start their first job.
March 02, 2023

A New Chapter: Step Up and Volunteer

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.
February 06, 2023

The New Chapter: A Tale of Two Towers

Have you ever played the game where you and your team try to build the tallest tower out of marshmallows and dry spaghetti (and sometimes tape) within a time limit? If you’ve played this fun game before, you know it’s meant to test problem-solving skills and build teamwork. But what if I told you that you’ve been playing this game all wrong?
January 03, 2023

The New Chapter: How Networking Opens Doors

As we prepare for IPC APEX EXPO 2023, I want to reflect on the unique opportunities of this event. Every year, it creates a space for industry leaders from around the world to solve real-world problems together. Networking in this innovative setting can launch many individuals toward the next steps in their careers. For me as a college student, networking has completely changed the trajectory of my career. Here are three ways that networking was instrumental in taking me from a college student to a young professional.
December 07, 2022

The New Chapter: A Day in the Life of a Process Engineer

I’m often asked, by college students, what a day in the life of a process engineer entails. While each day is vastly different, I thought I would lay out a “typical” day to provide more insight into a process engineer in the PCB manufacturing industry. Of course, there is no “typical day” in PCB manufacturing. Although ideal, this timeline is not always accurate. Some days involve hours of hands-on work with machines and digging into root-causes. Other days, I am at my desk updating processes and creating temporary process instructions to test a new process.
October 24, 2022

The New Chapter: Retaining Engineers in the Workplace

The burgeoning job market means our communities will need to recruit talent for years to come. Many companies view this as a challenge and have expressed concern that not enough students are graduating with engineering degrees. However, colleges and universities are seeing breakthroughs in their pervasive low retention rates as they create diverse environments where students can flourish. Installing similar programs within the engineering industry itself will prove vital to industry growth. Hannah Nelson has three tips for making "sense" of a career for new engineers.
October 05, 2022

The New Chapter: Let’s Make Manufacturing ‘Cool’ Again

Computer science has become the new “cool.” Today’s students were groomed to want jobs in tech at big companies with happy hours, big paychecks, and high status. They were taught that they could design anything their heart desired from behind a computer screen without a second thought for the person who had to manufacture it. Let’s face it, manufacturing just isn’t sexy. It’s dirty, manual, and for electronics, has a history of low margins. The pipeline into the field is broken. What was once a self-sufficient stream has dropped to a pitiful trickle. But it doesn't have to stay that way. Paige Fiet lays out the problem behind the board.
September 06, 2022

The New Chapter: With a Little Help From My (IPCEF) Friends

About a year ago, student Hannah Nelson began engaging in leadership activities that would both improve her skills and provide opportunities for others to flourish in the electronics field. Soon after, a friend asked if she would be interested in leading their IPC student chapter. "I said yes in a heartbeat," Hannah says. Because of COVID shutdowns, their student organization had crumbled, and while she knew she could restore it, she had no clue where to begin. That was, at least, until her chapter advisor suggested reaching out to the IPC Education Foundation (IPCEF). That's when the momentum happened.
August 04, 2022

The New Chapter: My Time on the IPC Board of Directors—Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

At Joe O’Neil’s Hall of Fame ceremony in January, he talked about his first IPC APEX EXPO. He said he felt he was sitting at a table with the “giants of industry.” That analogy perfectly describes how I felt during my tenure on IPC’s Board of Directors. Each time we met, I had the distinct feeling that I was conversing with today’s giants. In this column, Paige reflects on how she was selected as a student director and the influence she was able to make on the board.
July 06, 2022

The New Chapter: My Interview With Happy Holden

This past year, I set up several informational interviews with individuals across the industry. I saw this as an avenue to both enhance my own career and provide insight for my peers. To that end, I had the incredible honor of interviewing Happy Holden, the father of HDI PCBs. His insight into what it takes to be an excellent engineer and grow exponentially in this industry is unrivaled.
May 23, 2022

The New Chapter: Simple Secrets for Effective Mentorships

Mentoring the next generation is a hot topic in the industry, as many are asking what needs to happen for the electronics industry to maintain young talent. How do we close the tribal knowledge gap that persists across several generations? One way to better understand the needs of up-and-coming engineers is through mentorship programs. According to the Mentor Coach Foundation, 79% of millennials report mentorship as being crucial to their career success. Further, one of the top reasons millennials leave their current position is due to “lack of learning and development opportunities.” Creating an active environment for young professionals to learn and grow professionally throughout their career can drastically affect retention in these positions.
May 09, 2022

The New Chapter: Prepping for an Internship? Three Tips to Shore Up Your Skills

When I first logged onto my computer in summer 2021, I was beyond nervous. I had just accepted the role of corporate intern at Caterpillar Inc., where I would be working on the product service development team. As I started my internship, I felt like I didn’t know anything—and I mostly didn’t. The scariest part for me was thinking I would be expected to perform a job I didn’t have the knowledge or experience for. But that first day made me realize that I wasn’t expected to know everything. I was there to learn.
March 22, 2022

The New Chapter: Our Introduction to the Electronics Industry

IPC’s Board of Directors previous student liaison, Paige Fiet, and current student liaison, Hannah Nelson are combining their talents as new columnists for I-Connect007. Through their column, they will share their thoughts and experiences as student engineers and the transition to the workforce. In this first column, they discuss their backgrounds in the electronics industry and their position on the Board of Directors.
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