Kevin (far left) with Emerging Engineer colleagues and mentors.
What advice does a young engineer offer to students pursuing a career in engineering? Staffers at the IPC Education Foundation (IPCEF) gained some insight following an interview with Kevin Kusiak, an engineer at Lockheed Martin. Kusiak is responsible for research, design, and development, of electronic assemblies and systems that support the Avionics and Power teams.
Kusiak is also an IPC Emerging Engineer. IPC’s Emerging Engineer program provides professionals early in their careers the opportunity to learn from industry volunteers by participating in IPC standards development.
IPCEF: How can students prepare for a career in the electronics industry?
Kusiak: By doing well in school and proving you have the capacity to learn and gain an understanding of new concepts. On top of that, reaching out for hands-on opportunities, whether by getting involved in robotics competitions (and/or other technical activities) or reaching out to companies for internships - even at the high school level.
IPCEF: What makes the electronics industry interesting, fun and exciting?
Kusiak: It is changing so rapidly. There are literally new problems to solve every day. That is what makes engineering so much fun! We can see miniaturization and growth in capabilities of our consumer electronics and on the military/defense side as well. As a whole, the industry is making huge leaps and bounds every day and companies are always pushing each other.
IPCEF: Why do we need younger talent in the electronics industry?
Kusiak: Electronics are everywhere, and the US economy is a leader in technology development. In order to continue to be leaders in this area, we need to have new talent always coming into the industry with fresh and innovative ideas.
IPCEF: What and where did your study?
Kusiak: I studied Electrical Engineering at Michigan Technological University. I worked several internships while in school, including one designing and testing test equipment. This got me introduced to printed circuit boards (PCBs) and PCB manufacturing. Eventually, I moved to Southern California for a systems engineering job with a large aerospace company with hopes of eventually getting into their PCB design group. While working, I went back to grad school at the University of Southern California and got my master’s in electrical engineering with a concentration in control theory. I was good at it and enjoyed it, but it turns out I wasn’t as passionate about it as the PCB industry, so I kept my position in the PCB design group. Currently, I am in Denver, where I am the subject matter expert (SME) for PCB design and fabrication at Lockheed Martin Space.
IPCEF: What steps did you take that led to your current career?
Kusiak: In high school, I attended a week-long engineering camp at Michigan State University that introduced me to various engineering disciplines such as mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, and environmental. This solidified my decision to study electrical engineering. In school, I worked hard to pursue any internship opportunities and landed my first internship halfway through my sophomore year. After getting some very good experience from my first internship, my second and third came much easier.
IPCEF: What can students do to find a job in the industry?
Kusiak: You need to start somewhere. Starting out without experience is hard, but there are a lot of things you can do to help sell yourself for that first internship or full-time job. Get involved with projects, in clubs, and stay active in the community. Even if you are not getting technical experience directly related to what you want to do, you are making connections that will help you out in the long run. Never underestimate the power of your network.
IPCEF: What do you love about your job?
Kusiak: Solving problems every single day.
Learn more about the IPC Emerging Engineer Program.
Download this 16-page booklet and your students will have a resource that explains the basics of electronics terminology. This resource helps students identify components, understand polarity, value, tolerances, and explains the differences between through-hole and surface-mount components.
Don't miss out on this simple reference tool for learning the terminology of electronics design and manufacturing. Click here to get your guide!