Interview with Emerging Engineer Student – Krystal Li

ipcapexexpo May 13, 2024

The IPC Emerging Engineer program provide young professionals the opportunity to learn from the dedicated industry volunteers who participate in standards development, technical discussions, career guidance, etc. In 2020 the IPC Education Foundation started to support this program and launched the IPC Emerging Engineer Student Program to allow students to benefit from this program as well. The IPC Emerging Engineer Program is a 3-year commitment, but due to balancing academic commitments, students entering the program will commit to participate for 1-year.

Krystal Li, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying towards her Electrical Engineering degree participated in the program during the IPC APEX EXPO in Anaheim, CA during 6-11 April, 2024.
Charlene Gunter, Sr. Director of the IPC Education Foundation had the opportunity to connect with her about the experience and to learn more about her future career aspirations.

Charlene: “Share a little background on yourself.”

Krystal: “I am a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Electrical Engineering. I'm from upstate NY and love skiing and running in my free time!” 

Charlene: “Briefly explain why you were interested in the Emerging Engineer Program?”

Krystal: “I was interested in the Emerging Engineering Program because I hadn't had much exposure to the industry side of my studies -- I had only taken theoretical classes and some labs, but I felt there was a huge gap between college and the industry I was looking to pursue in the future. When I heard of an electronics manufacturing conference dedicated entirely to industry standards, education, and networking, I knew I wanted to get involved and explore some of the avenues by which I can apply electrical engineering to this area.”

Charlene: “What’s the most valuable aspects of the Emerging Engineer Program?”

Krystal: “The most valuable aspect of the Emerging Engineer Program is definitely the people. My initial group that was assigned to me was especially important -- my mentor and other current and former student Emerging Engineers helped me navigate the program and meet even more people involved with IPC. I also think that the mandated events and meet-and-greets were immensely helpful and valuable to my experience because it allowed me to fully immerse myself and learn as much as I could.” 

Charlene: “Why is this important within our industry?”

Krystal: “Programs such as these are important in our industry because it not only bridges the knowledge gap between the younger workforce and experienced individuals, but also cultivates a welcoming community of people passionate about electronics manufacturing. This has many implications, which can include seeing different perspectives, continually learning new things, and having conversations that ultimately contribute to building electronics better.”

Charlene: “What’s your next steps in terms of professional growth and/or career aspirations?”

Krystal: “My next steps in terms of professional growth is to continue my undergraduate and master's degree in EE. I am doing an internship this summer at a telecom company where I will learn more about how engineering applies in that industry. From attending this conference, I hope to get experience in electronics in my next career move.” 

Charlene: “Why would you recommend students to consider career paths in electronics manufacturing?”

Krystal: “. I would recommend students to consider career paths in electronics manufacturing because there are so many interesting types of work that go into the process. Electronics manufacturing includes people with backgrounds in electrical/electronics engineering, chemical engineering/chemistry, materials science, mechanical engineering, and industrial engineering, just to name a few. There is bound to be something that interests you, and people are always doing interesting, cutting edge, and/or important work that is exciting to be a part of.” 

Charlene: “What has been the highlight of the IPC APEX EXPO?”

Krystal: “The highlight of the IPC APEX EXPO for me was towards the end of the conference at events such as the ice cream social and group dinners, I really got to interact with many of the other Emerging Engineers and learn about their unique journeys and experiences so far, even though they were relatively fresh into their careers. I have made a few very good friendships, which I did not anticipate happening, and hope to return next year to continue the journey.”

Charlene: “Please share three new things you’ve learned this week?”

Krystal: “Three new things I learned this week: 

  1. The intricate yet organized process that revisions are made for IPC-J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610.
  2. The "father" of modern HDI PCBs, I was able to hear about Happy's interesting stories from working at HP and while all over the world!
  3. All about Li-Ion batteries - the different types and the pros and cons of each during a technical session.”

Charlene: “Please share a few sentences what this experience meant to you personally?”

Krystal: “This experience was really meaningful because I had been feeling lost career-wise. I have been doing well in classes, but I wanted to know what options were out in industry for me. One of the PD courses about semiconductors and current industry challenges was particularly interesting because the theory portion of the PD I had learned in a class just last semester, so it was a really cool connection to see the academia and industry intersecting. I also met so many people, both early career and extremely experienced professionals, who offered advice to me, through which I learned a lot from their stories.” 


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