IPC spent the summer gearing up for our new education and certification platforms, and we’re pleased to announce that IPC EDGE 2.0 is ready for all certification users. I talked with David Hernandez, senior director of learning and professional development, and Kris Roberson, director of certification programs, to talk about what’s new in education and certification.
John Mitchell: How has IPC EDGE 2.0 been improved for learners?
Dave Hernandez: We improved the platform by incorporating feedback and feature requests we received from our first quarter beta-testing. As a result, we’ve made substantial upgrades and additions to the new platform, such as simplifying the registration process, transitioning to a distributed cloud architecture, and making the entire process easier and more streamlined for our learners and instructors.
Mitchell: Has the transition to IPC EDGE 2.0 been successful?
Kris Roberson: Transitioning all our certification users was a challenge, but we provided six online webinars, recordings of webinars, a printable users guide, and an FAQ. The extensive training we offered helped ease the transition to IPC EDGE 2.0. While we received many requests for help in the first week, help requests are decreasing daily.
Mitchell: How has this platform made training and the certification process more efficient and effective?
Hernandez: The new IPC EDGE 2.0 system is a vast improvement over the old system in functionality, clarity of communication, flexibility for online content delivery, and the print exams, when required. For example, students can navigate through exams easily, jump to specific questions, and flag questions to return to later. Additionally, the system requires that students verify their answers before submitting the exam for grading. IPC EDGE 2.0 also introduced new privacy controls. Even in certification classes, students’ accounts are private, limiting access to their personal information and certifications. This aligns our programs with the ISO 17024 (international standard for certification programs that certify individuals), as well as the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requirements.
Mitchell: We understand that IPC now handles the system. Has it made a significant difference to have full control of training and testing, and if so, why?
Roberson: The most significant change with developing our own system is that we transitioned from a platform using a single server to a distributed cloud architecture. This has improved the performance for users globally, which also adds significant stability and scalability to the platform.
Hernandez: Bringing the management of the system in-house has reduced our response time to any issues significantly. With the legacy system, if there was a programming or system issue, we had to contact our internal point-of-contact. Then that person would evaluate the problem and contact the website management. The website managers would process the issue as is their protocol for customers. In some cases, we had hours or days until resolution.
Mitchell: One of the first programs on the revised platform was the Certified Electronics Program Manager (CEPM). Can you tell us a little about that program?
Hernandez: The CEPM is a redevelopment of the EMS Program Manager certification program that was expanded to meet the needs of both EMS companies and OEMs. The scope of the program was expanded to accommodate a wide range of students and transitioned from an in-person class to a live online seminar.
An industry expert in the field teaches the new program over a six-week period. Students can attend lectures via a webinar or watch a recorded video at their leisure. After the training is completed, the individual will contact an approved IPC proctoring site to schedule and take the online exam. A list of proctoring sites will be available in the coming weeks.
The new CEPM course is a win for everyone, especially students. Individuals can take the courses from anywhere in the world at their own pace. Through the online delivery, IPC was also able to reduce the cost of the course and pass the savings on to the end user. This, combined with the elimination of travel costs, should make the program much more affordable to the industry.
Mitchell: IPC EDGE 2.0 is one of the many ways to address the skills gap affecting the industry. How is this working so far?
Roberson: It’s still a little early to tell. Over the next several months, we will be releasing new online training programs and transitioning existing programs from IPC EDGE 1.0 to 2.0. Many of the new programs that are completing development are targeted at specific areas of the industry where gaps exist between the skills the industry needs and the skills of our workforce.
Hernandez: We hope that by providing targeted, engaging, convenient, and efficient online training, we will see a measurable impact. The release of the new platform is just the beginning. The fun part is still ahead. Stay tuned.
Mitchell: Thank you for your time.
Hernandez: Thank you.
John Mitchell is president and CEO of IPC—Association Connecting Electronics Industries.