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108 I-CONNECT007 I REAL TIME WITH... IPC APEX EXPO 2020 SHOW & TELL MAGAZINE to do some work, but it will be well worth it. Plus, those contacts can be invaluable when you are back at your job and need advice, help, or anything else. It's always hard for me to judge the activ- ity on the show floor, but from what I heard, there weren't too many tire kickers—those walking around were serious and doing actual business. If I have one beef about the show floor, it was the several large booths that had two-story walls that effectively blocked those unfortunate to be behind them. Wasn't there a rule against that? Some not-so-serious attendees were the STEM high school students. This was IPC's third year of inviting local (San Diego area) high schools to attend IPC APEX EXPO for the STEM Student Outreach Program. This year, I believe the number of students nearly dou- bled to 200 from nine participating schools. Upon arriving, the students lined up for a buf- fet breakfast and picked up a backpack and T-shirt on their way to their seats. IPC had the day's activities divided into four tracks that involved some classroom time, soldering time, and a show floor tour. It was very well-organ- ized; herding that many high schoolers can't be easy! IPC was smart to put the emerging engineers (another initiative that has grown exponentially) to work as the herders—actu- ally, leaders. The one frustrating thing about the STEM program is that it hits such a small area of the country. Hopefully, IPC and other organiza- tions are expanding it in some way (though it won't include the show floor, which always impresses the students) across the country. I know SMTA is making an effort at the small regional shows, though mostly focusing on college students. And I see more frequent news items from all sorts of companies that are sponsoring STEM or STEAM events in their areas. Yay! As always, the IPC conference and show was refreshing, renewing, and uplifting—a good shot in the arm. We have to be in the most interesting, challenging, and exciting industry in the world! S&T

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