“I’ve been interested in the STEM field for as long as I can remember — before I even really knew what it was (at my kindergarten graduation), boisterously announcing, ‘I want to be an engineer when I grow up!’ Now in my last semester pursuing a degree in electrical engineering with a biomed application, I find myself ready to embark on a career in the field I so eagerly sought to enter all those years ago.
My story of involvement in IPC (the association connecting electronics industries) begins with Professor Christopher Middlebrook. In spring semester 2020, when I was enrolled in the professor’s printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing course, he forwarded me an email from IPC’s Education Foundation announcing that, for the first time, the Board of Directors was seeking a student to join the board and advocate on behalf of IPC student members. Professor Middlebrook thought I would be an ideal candidate and asked if I would entertain a nomination. At first, I was very hesitant. Founded in 1957, IPC is responsible for international electronic standards development, and at that time I only had one prior internship experience working with those standards. But after some thought, I agreed to the nomination.
About six weeks later I got another email. IPC announced its seven top national candidates. I was one of them! Members in IPC student chapters around the world received our candidate bios and were asked to vote. The third email arrived in my inbox about a month later. It was from IPC President and CEO Dr. John Mitchell announcing I’d been selected to serve as student liaison on the Board of Directors.
Being part of the board has been a huge honor. I’m proud to bring the students’ perspective to leadership and to advocate for our needs, such as increasing education foundation funding.
Being a member of an IPC student chapter can open so many doors for students! IPC offers 50 annual $1,000 scholarships to students interested in the electronics industry. A student membership provides free access to two industry standards guidelines per year, opportunities to compete in design competitions, networking opportunities, opportunities to join the Emerging Engineer mentorship program and more.
Besides being student liaison on IPC’s Board of Directors, I’ve held many other leadership positions. In my hometown of Cadillac, Michigan, I was captain of the high school cross-country team and vice president of the Cadillac Area Youth Advisory Committee. In college, I became the president of MTU’s IPC & Electronics Club. It’s energizing and exciting to see my peers as passionate about a topic as I am. Their engagement and success make the extra time commitment and investment worth it.
My worst college experience was my freshman year, learning how to be a successful college student. In my first semester, I struggled to adapt to the required study hours. Now, I keep all my activities in order and my head above water by using my Google Calendar religiously. Scheduling time to focus on next steps for the club or creating new ideas for the Board is how I achieve success in specific areas of my life. I try to plan every week out on Sunday so I can fit as much in as possible. Developing these skills as a student will help me immensely in the professional world.
Since I mentioned the worst, I should say that my best college experience has been watching Michigan Tech Hockey. I’ve always been a hockey fan, but something about the Mac makes the games magical! And, going to Michigan Tech runs in the family. My brother is also a current student and my dad is an alumnus.
At this point in my education journey, I’ve had three professional internships. The first was at Avon Protection Systems in Cadillac. The following summer, I interned at Calumet Electronics in Calumet, Michigan. This past summer, I was at Gentex Corporation in Zeeland, Michigan. My internships reinforced and enhanced the engineering concepts and skills I’ve been learning at Tech with more hands-on experience dealing with real-world problems. Most importantly, I was fortunate to be paired with a great mentor at each company. I learned the value of having a mentor who believes in you, invests in you and helps you succeed. With graduation on the horizon, I’m focused on finding the position that’s right for me in the electronics industry. I look forward to continuing my work with IPC and plan to one day mentor other college students who share my love and passion for electronic design and manufacturing. – Paige Fiet, ’22