Interview with Hannah Nelson - Valparaiso University Chapter President and IPC Board of Directors Student Member Liaison


Charlene: Today I'm gonna have a conversation with Hannah Nelson. She is the president of our IPC student chapter at Valparaiso University and she also serves as the IPC student board liaison officer representing the IPC student members on the IPC Board of Directors.

I need you to please help us enrich and guide fellow students across America about the IPC student member program that we have in terms of the chapters. If you belong to an IPC student chapter at your university or your community college, you have the ability to drive that club or student organization from a student perspective. You have the opportunity to make sense of electronics manufacturing as an industry, to connect with your peers and students that are like-minded, and to utilize the resources that IPC provides to connect with industry members within your local area or wider.

I need someone in the shoes of a student member at IPC, who joined and participated, who is a leader on their campus, who applied for scholarships, who makes use of the opportunities to share and to guide students who also want to follow in your footsteps. What are the steps that you needed to take to start an IPC student chapter on your campus?

Hannah: I started our IPC student chapter in the summer of 2021 as a couple of our students and our advisor had reached out to me to become a leadership position on our IPC student chapter. We originally had a chapter going before COVID happened but when COVID happened it completely fell off and so we were starting completely from scratch. I originally did not know what to do so I reached out to my advisor who told me to contact the IPC Education Foundation. I reached out to the Education Foundation and was like what do you believe I should do to start my chapter? We executed some events and they helped me host a kickoff event and from there I reached out to our student senate, got a budget figured out for the school year, and a constitution and bylaws to help execute some of those events.

In terms of recruitment, to help retain new members and get more people on our leadership team, I talked to people throughout my courses, throughout my university, and different activities I was in and preached about the benefits that IPC had that I had already experienced in my own career. I also put up several different advertisements throughout the college of engineering.

Charlene: That's fantastic! I think that the key is you were proactive and you literally went and spoke to people on campus to connect dots to enrich yourself but also bring something to your fellow students. That is part of being a leader amongst your peers. Your chapter advisor seems to have played a very important role. What is the role of the chapter advisor? What is the importance of having that support specifically on your campus?

Hannah: I believe a chapter advisor is there to help educate and encourage their students to take on a leadership role in their chapter. My advisor wanted us to be fully student-run. For us to take complete charge and create our own events, contact our student organizations on campus, and see what our peers were interested in. He gave us some advice but was not the sole leader in our organization. He had us help take a role in that organization and provided those contacts to help the organization grow.

Charlene: That's fantastic. Is there any role that the advisor can play in terms of sending messages to fellow students in the engineering department or is it mainly word of mouth? How did people learn about your kick off event?

Hannah: My advisor helped since he had a lot of contacts in the college of engineering. Tons of professors were able to promote extra credit opportunities in their classes if a student were to go to our event. I had several classmates and friends that I reached out with and was promoting the benefits of IPC and was like this has already helped me in this way and I know it can help you in this way. Also making events that they would be interested in because as a college student our time is incredibly valuable. We're at one club one minute and then we're at class the next minute and then homework like 12 hours of the day. Finding activities that were worth our time I thought was the most valuable part in order to coordinate these events.

Charlene: Awesome. Tell me a little bit more about types of chapter activities that you have maybe done in the past and things that you as the chapter president are planning along with your team moving forward for the next semester.

Hannah: Last fall when I started most of my events, I had about two of them because I was trying to be in the background planning how I was going to grow our chapter working with our student senate and with my advisor. Some of those events were the kickoff event where the IPC Education Foundation came to our school and promoted IPC and talked more about how they were there to help and the different activities we could run in our chapter. Another event that we had which I really loved was a PCB Christmas tree LED light up event where they could make their own 3d printed Christmas tree and solder it and they got to take those home. It really encouraged a lot of individuals to get excited about the electronics industry and moving forward I'm planning on hosting several women in STEM events. I'm planning on hosting a women in STEM industry event where several speakers from Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, and IBM are going to come and talk and encourage other young women to get into the electronics industry. Also a young high school girls soldering event to teach them how to solder and gain those professional and development skills before they enter the real world.

Charlene: That's fantastic! it sounds so much fun and I know that you know the the soldering activity that we do at the IPC APEX STEM event is always a big hit and so I'm grateful that certain elements you know trickle down onto the chapter level and I think I've seen the the Christmas trees that you guys made so that was amazing. Being a student and what you mentioned earlier with all of the things that you need to do to grow your profile personally and professionally and get your degree or your qualifications and plan of these things - it's a lot! In terms of being an IPC member first and foremost, what are the benefits that you feel spoke to you and also to members as part of your chapter?

Hannah: I believe what's so beneficial about IPC is the networking. Even before I got into the emerging engineer program or the student board director program, I was able to network with several individuals within the industry. Wendy Gaston reached out to me and had me talk to several different industry companies around me to coordinate events with them. Going into the emerging engineer program, I was able to talk with people from IBM, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin and gain their insights and mentorship and it completely changed my life and my professional development career. I would also say like the courses IPC provides learning more about the electronics manufacturing process. At my school that is not within our curriculum and I had no idea that it was even a part of the industry. So learning about that has set me up for my future career and what I want to do this year. Also I believe the scholarships are incredibly beneficial. I was paying for college on my own and so having that help to alleviate some of the time I would be using working to gain that money to pay for school I was able to use to build my own chapter.

Charlene: That's fantastic Hannah and that's very true. Being part of the IPC membership you have opportunities to connect with the industry and to network. Each of our student chapters are in a place where we have IPC members serving the industry in their backyards and they are looking for talent. Accessing some industry related content that is not necessarily covered by your curriculum is an added bonus because you can speak the language that the industry folks need so I think that already makes an interview for an internship or a co-op or job so much easier. I'm so thankful to know that you know you applied in the past, you won a scholarship, and you can apply once again. As long as you're a member you can apply once a year and a thousand dollars is an added bonus and you can apply that to where you have a gap or purchase textbooks or something. It warms my heart and I know everybody at IPC and the leadership will be thankful to learn that you know it does go towards crucial elements to grow and prepare yourself for the industry.

Apart from all of the great activities that you have done, what plans do you have as part of the leadership for the chapter to ensure that the hard work that you are putting in will continue even though you will move on in the future?

Hannah: Originally we were planning to host our elections at the end of last semester because most of our college of engineering organizations have their elections in the spring semester. But one of my friends brought up to me that it would be an excellent idea to host our elections at the end of December so that I am still there to help provide guidance for our next leadership so it's an easier transition into the next school year. So we're planning on having our elections in December and we'll promote this through our advisor and our college of engineering social media.

Charlene: That makes perfect sense and it is important to have that continued level of effort that you put in and hand over to someone new. What struggles have you run into, besides COVID, to ensure that there's new students and people know about it and want to join?

Hannah: I believe the biggest struggle was retaining talent because a lot of our students are in several different organizations. The average is about five organizations so they can be doing dance marathons, they can be doing IEEE, IPC but it's like what makes our organization stand apart from the other organizations? Planning those events was incredibly useful for retaining the talent that we needed. So asking our students, what events do you want to go to? What will help your professional and technical development the most and is worth your time? To also help promote recruitment and retention we're planning on going to our student organization kickoff event at the beginning of this week to help bring in some of those new freshmen that have no idea what our organization is about and have them become excited about IPC.

Charlene: Awesome! So you have to be present on campus, you need to be proactive, you need to plan you know ahead of time. In terms of chapter leadership, one person cannot do it all so do you have other fellow leaders or folks that are part of the chapter that support to plan and coordinate all of these chapter operations?

Hannah: I believe this is the hardest part for me because I'm the type of person that loves to be super proactive and take charge of everything but I've realized over the past years being a leader that I can't do it all. So I have reached out to our vice president who takes over some of the communication externally to these high schools for events or people within the industry to bring speakers into our school. We also have our secretary who writes up our meeting minutes and helps coordinate events with the college of engineering. Our public relations chair helps promote what events we're having. Our treasurer allocates our budget and makes sure that we're getting the funding we need from the student senate.

Charlene: Wow, so it's five leadership positions: president, vice president, a treasurer, a secretary, and public relations chair. That teamwork and those meetings that you have sets the tone for everything that you do and as a benefit, those are skills that you can add to your resume as well. Do you feel serving as a student leader on your campus adds to your professional profile?

Hannah: I believe it absolutely adds to your professional profile! I believe I've completely changed as an individual being in the IPC Education Foundation program. I've grown my network, I've grown my leadership skills and my professional skills and my technical skills. I just believe it's incredibly beneficial. It helped me in my internship this past summer with Caterpillar and even on other organizations that I'm a part of on campus.

Charlene: That’s wonderful news and that's what we really want to do as the Foundation and why IPC started the Foundation. It is to support, help, and grow students interested in pursuing careers in the electronics manufacturing industry and Hannah you are a true ambassador to the Foundation to IPC not only based on the positions that you serve in but the activities that you do on the ground so we are very thankful for your time and and for being a true leader amongst your peers.

If there is anyone interested to start a student chapter they can reach out to the IPC Education Foundation and I know Hannah would also be more than willing to share her thoughts and her ideas. Hannah, is there anything else that you want to say to fellow students out there interested in starting a student chapter?

Hannah: I believe the one thing is just be there and promote your chapter. Do what you're incredibly passionate for and others will see it. If you have a passion for IPC and everything that they're promoting others will see it and they'll gain interest and you'll recruit more people into your chapter.

Charlene: Thank you, Hannah. That's great advice and we appreciate you. Good luck with this start of the semester and we will talk soon.

Hannah: Thank you, Charlene.


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