The Route

Kelly Dack

Those who buy and specify every day have much to teach us about the industry.

Are you finding your place in the PCB industry? Are you feeling a bit disconnected from the rest of the world as you perform your PCB engineering job? Maybe you should consider joining a trade organization. Aligning and participating with a trade org that is well matched to your areas of expertise can be a monumental benefit to your career. It can put you in touch with others who can help you discover what you don’t know, but perhaps you’ve needed to know!

Our industry has many PCB engineering development groups and trade organizations. Finding the right ones to join may not be as easy as you think. Following some of the criteria PCB engineering quality assurance stakeholders use to find good products and services for their company makes it easier to narrow the list.

Many in the PCB engineering industry do not specify or qualify materials directly. But we might work closely with those who take part in qualifying the materials and manufacturers that are responsible for checking out and making important decisions regarding the quality of the materials or processes offered. It could be valuable to understand how these industry stakeholders of ours set up business relationships and roadmaps for moving forward.

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Read more: Learning from the Quality Auditors

Kelly Dack

Get your skills in order, as the industry is ramping once more.

In this month’s column, I examine the PCB engineering job outlook and evaluate the career moves we are making. Next, I switch over to PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez, who points out important attributes our personal development should include to keep our edges sharp. Again, I am happy to provide our readers with a growing list of events coming up in 2021.

PCEA Updates

The pandemic came upon us like a supersonic jet – unseen and unheard until it passed over. It compressed the atmosphere of our lives, our industry and our jobs. As it appears to be moving on with the help of remote working, masking, social distancing and vaccination, the industry is moving to positively decompress. NPI programs are now revving up once again and causing sonic shock waves of hiring activity and job movement. Were you furloughed, laid off or had your hours cut back due to the pandemic’s effects? Boom! It’s time to clap back!

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Read more: PCB Engineering on the Move

Kelly Dack

The chairman and chairman emeritus describe the past and future.

In this month’s column I convey the value of honing a skillset and the importance of being able to measure that skillset. Next, I hand it off to PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez, who offers a positive outlook on PCEA activities over the summer months. Again, I am happy to provide our readers with a growing list of events coming up in 2021.

PCEA Updates

How do you hone your printed circuit engineering skills? Are your skills measureable?  We work in an industry that relies on analysis, checking, measurement, feedback and adjustment to improve process and products.

When we think about PCB engineering, we tend to consider product success in terms of process steps: people defining analysis criteria and working to make the product more useful, efficient and valuable.

But let’s pause for a minute and ask, “Who or what is making the people who pull the levers on all these attributes more useful, efficient and valuable?”

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Read more: Test for Design: How Do You Measure Up?

Kelly Dack

Help navigating career decisions is part of the value of PCEA.

In this month’s column, I extend an overview of two recently held PCEA chapter meetings and give a nod to two interesting presenters who gave their time to cover relevant topics. Next, I hand it off to PCEA chairman Steph Chavez who relates a recent personal career “crossroads” experience and shares what gave him the hope and confidence to carry on. This month, I am excited to provide our readers with a growing list of events coming in 2021.

Chapter Updates

The Michigan Chapter held a highly anticipated kickoff meeting on Feb. 24. Chapter chairman Dugan Karnazes welcomed an international online audience to the meeting and spoke about the excitement and anticipation of bringing local area printed circuit engineers together to learn alongside a greater audience. The featured speaker for the event was Terry Munson, owner of Foresite, who presented The Forensics of Dendrite Shorting. Munson offered his definition of cleanliness, then described no less than 16 sources of contamination that cause dendritic shorts on PCBAs and offered mitigation techniques (FIGURE 1).

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Read more: Cleaning Up

Kelly Dack

The chairman and chairman emeritus describe the past and future. 

In this month’s column, the chairman and chairman emeritus for the PCEA give their viewpoints on the importance of organizing. And as always, I’ll provide a list of events coming up.

PCEA Updates

This month I am excited to bring to our readers an inspiring message from not one but two of the PCEA’s chairmen.

Many readers may not know that our PCEA board has two chairmen by design. Our idea from the beginning has been to preserve the experience from our past organizational associations and use it as our compass as we move ahead.

Steph Chavez serves as PCEA’s chairman. Steph’s primary interest is to lead this organization into a future that respects the ideas and efforts – the legacy – of those who have served the electronics industry so well in the past. To fulfill that interest, Steph relies on his counterpart, chairman emeritus Gary Ferrari, for his wisdom and experience. Gary’s compass was magnetized by a career of serving the electronics industry and bringing together and leading electronics industry professionals.

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Kelly Dack

Musings on land patterns and moon landings.

In this month’s column, I celebrate the importance of the humble PCB component footprint. I suggest that creating and leaving positive professional footprints on all we do in the Printed Circuit Engineering Association is imperative to the success of our industry. Next, I hand it off to PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez for some inspiring words as we tread into the new year. And as always, I provide a list of events coming up.

PCEA Updates

Not a day goes by that I don’t come across hundreds of footprints. Not all are related to electronic components used in PCB design. Around a cattle ranch, for instance, some are left by turkeys, deer, cattle and other outdoor critters as they go about their daily business foraging for food in the snow. Some footprints are my own, which I make as I go about my daily business taking care of outside chores. Sometimes I make “bad” footprints, tracking them into the kitchen if I fail to shed my Muck Boots in the mud room before entering. These are hardly lasting footprints, as I’d like to point out. They are made without much thought and quickly fade with the next snowfall or the wipe of a mop across the floor.

Lasting footprints are quite different.

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Read more: Footprints: Small Steps with a Giant Impact
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