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62 The PCB Design Magazine • August 2015 series of one-on-one and group meetings. These meetings should have a two-way dialogue. The basic ground rule: Nothing the young engineers can say is negative. These engineers are the fu- ture and life blood of your company. Next, young engineers should be assigned a mentor outside of their immediate group. This person needs to un- derstand his or her roll. Train- ing by HR should be a require- ment. The mentor should be selected to match the person- ality and interests of the men- tee. You want them to hit it off and become friends. I remember my days at Texas Instruments. There was no mentor program; you were on your own to discover the right way to get a proj- ect done. I was fortunate. I'd spent seven years as an of- ficer in the Army, so I knew how to get things done. I'll never forget the number of recent college graduates who would ask me how I knew to do something. Nobody would tell them until it was too late, when they would hear it from a program manager whose program was lagging behind. A mentor program would have paid major benefits then. Meanwhile, TI had a high turnover rate. Finally, young engineers should be encour- aged to join engineering groups like SMTA, IPC, the American Society for Quality (ASQ), and Women in Engineering. Once they join these groups they should be given time (even encouraged) to participate with the local chap- ters and attend the conventions and sympo- siums. Too often I hear, "Only my boss gets to go to this or that event." Young engineers are sponges, and the opportunity to learn should be made available. It is amazing how much information is transferred as a manager and a junior engineer walk the aisle of a trade show. While attend- ing conferences, young engineers should be as- signed to attend a couple of presentations dur- ing a symposium and required to report back to teammates what was learned. Local chapter meetings offer even more to help the young engineer's education. First, he learns there are other engineers having the same issues. He also quickly learns that this community is very supportive; he can talk freely with his peers without any repercussions. For the company, the local chapter meetings give the engineer the biggest bang for the smallest commitment, time and local travel. The engineer's educa- tion gain easily outweighs the value of an hour or two of lost labor every few months. Again, retention is the goal. The cost of losing an en- gineer is very high, not only for his present company, but probably for the STEM com- munity if the engineer decides to move to a different indus- try that promises to treat him better. In conclusion, high-tech companies will be hiring more and more engineers in the next couple of years. These compa- nies should do everything they can do to attract and retain the best and the brightest STEM graduates. First, they should offer salaries that are competitive with other industries. Second, they should es- tablish effective mentoring programs. Finally, they should encourage continuing the young engineers' education by encouraging active par- ticipation in industry organizations. PCBDESIGN article Tom O'Connor is the outside sales manager with DfR solutions. Tom has over 30 years of experience in the electronics industry. He began his career as a manufacturing engineer at Texas instruments, building the first airborne FliR systems. TRAINING THE NExT-GENERATION ENGINEER: WHEN DOES IT BEGIN AND END? continues Finally, young engineers should be encouraged to join engineering groups like sMta, IPC, the american society for Quality (asQ), and Women in engineering. once they join these groups they should be given time (even encouraged) to participate with the local chapters and attend the conventions and symposiums. " "

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