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104 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2019 well as accumulated research and training ma- terials from thousands of companies dedicated to advancing the electronics industry. Current- ly, SMTA is comprised of 55 regional chapters around the world and 29 local vendor exhi- bitions (worldwide), 10 technical conferences (worldwide), and one large annual meeting. Some of the greatest benefits come from the SMTA's mission of the sharing of knowledge and best processes by bringing educational content and a global network to local regions. It's a wonderful opportunity for students and young professionals to connect to their field domain and potential recruiters. Dunn: Being involved at the local chapter lev- el, I know SMTA has been working diligently to grow student membership and increase the number of student chapters. What is driving that effort? Shephard: As we are all aware, there is a gap between retiring baby boomers and millenni- als. Soon, there will be a large number of retir- ees, and millennials will need to step in and fill those vacancies. SMTA provides both students and young professionals access to those inter- ested in mentoring them. We have seen first- hand that when you combine the hunger of the up-and-coming engineers with experienced in- dustry professionals and tribal knowledge, great things can happen. Sometimes, people just need an open door and a friendly face on the other side to greet them and show them the way. Dunn: I couldn't agree more. I encourage all of us "more experienced" people to consid- er mentoring. At the Upper Midwest Chapter Expo, the topic of industry recruitment came up during a breakfast discussion. We spoke at length about this looming crisis in the PCB de- sign, fabrication, and assembly sectors, as so many industry veterans are hitting retirement age. One aspect we discussed was how do we recruit at the college or technical college level and attract emerging engineers to this indus- try? SMTA is planning to launch a pilot pro- gram this fall at a local university. Can you give an overview of the program you are plan- ning? Shephard: Absolutely! We are very excited about this new program. The intention is to create a program for engineering students that spotlights the electronics industry and gives re- al-world examples of the types of career paths available and the impact that the electronics field has on our lives. Our industry doesn't rely on only one type of electrical degree—we are in need of mechanical, chemical, and pro- cess engineering studies. One of the challeng- es of recruiting to this industry is helping stu- dents realize that there is a career opportunity in this field, giving them the chance to make connections, and making it easy for them to seize that opportunity. Dunn: There is a lot of competition for emerg- ing engineering talent. What other industries are trying to promote interest in engineering and recruit young engineers? Who is our com- petition? Shephard: There are so many programs start- ing at the high school level—and even earli- er—surrounding robotics programs, gaming, coding, etc. Hopefully, we will soon be talk- ing about clubs and courses that dive into the basics of the electronics that power these fun activities. Dunn: Thinking of our local electronics indus- try, I understand you are planning to involve both local OEMs and suppliers in this pro- gram. In what ways can they participate and become involved? It's a wonderful opportunity for students and young professionals to connect to their field domain and potential recruiters.

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