The Route

Mike Buetow

A bevy of tech talks are available to industry engineers, regardless of their location.

As readers of this space may know, the Printed Circuit Engineering Association is acquiring the assets of UP Media Group. Once that happens, I’ll become president of PCEA. Going forward, this column will focus on the ways PCEA is addressing issues of concern to our membership and the industry at large.

For the past year-plus, this column has been written by Kelly Dak, our erstwhile communications director, and Stephen Chavez, our chairman. In the next couple months, the PCEA is transitioning from an all-volunteer organization to one with a fulltime staff, which will allow the board of directors to focus on higher-level strategy. Steph’s role, then will no longer be tied to monthly communications but rather leading the board in charting the goals and direction of the association. And filling the gaps is where I come in.

Think of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association as a “ground up” organization. We aim to advance the careers of professional engineers. We do this primarily through a peer-to-peer network where we offer training, technical knowledge, and career advice across the printed circuit engineering spectrum: design, fabrication, assembly, and test.

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The PCEA is about to be reshaped in ways none could have imagined.

What other than a dynamic organization like the PCEA could decide it wants to establish a trade show footprint one month and then muster the creative talents of its executive staff to design a trade show booth to exhibit at DesignCon the next? Oh, and then exhibit at another major trade show like PCB West only a short time after? I’ll tell you, the PCEA has a momentum the likes of which I and many others have not seen in this industry.

I do not use “momentum” lightly. Because like the shiny, spherical bob of a pendulum in a Newtonian mechanics experiment, the leadership of this organization seems to be able to swoop down from their rightward (positive) displacement, pass their zero position goal of achieved success and still have enough momentum to reach their leftward displacement, where they tend to set yet another, even loftier goal. The harmonic motion repeats but, unlike a pendulum, appears to gain energy rather than lose it to physical pseudoforces.

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Read more: A Grand Announcement!

Kelly Dack

Back in the trade show swing.

It seems the electronics trade show industry had been shrinking the past year only to swell with a sudden, extreme realization venues are opening and plans that went dormant last year are coming back to life. August provided a swell of relief in the form of DesignCon. DesignCon was held Aug. 16-18 at the San Jose Convention Center, and PCEA was happy to participate with its first-ever trade show booth (FIGURE 1). A special nod from the PCEA executive staff to Eriko Yamato, our events coordinator, on design, coordination and delivery of our booth and some very special giveaway t-shirts for show attendees. Michael Creeden, PCEA vice chairman and treasurer/coordinator of our PCEA sponsors manned the booth throughout the show, with help from PCEA media coordinator Tara Dunn (FIGURE 2). Mike reports that while the show numbers seemed down a bit, the show had the spirit of a family reunion, and quite a few attendees were interested in hearing about the value of joining PCEA.


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Read more: Interaction: Cure for Industry Contraction

Kelly Dack

Invest in yourself: You are your own best asset!

In this month’s column, I give kudos to our PCEA chapter liaison, who has been capturing the efforts of the PCEA to educate our members and our industry as a whole, then pass the mic to PCEA chairman Steph Chavez to provide some thoughts on taking charge of your career.

PCEA Updates

This month we highlight the work of PCEA’s Scott McCurdy, a tireless force for collaboration within the printed circuit engineering industry. Not only has McCurdy worked hard in the industry as director of sales & marketing for Freedom CAD Services in Orange County, CA, but for years he has worked as a leader in trade organizations specializing in educating their members.

Presently serving as PCEA’s chapter liaison and PCEA-Orange County chapter president, McCurdy coordinates all chapter leadership and inspires them to move in a consistent and helpful direction. Local PCEA chapters are actively planning their yearly itineraries to serve our industry. From the founding of PCEA throughout the pandemic of 2020, McCurdy  has worked with chapter members and industry educators to create a PCEA YouTube channel to spread educational presentations:

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Read more: Taking Charge of Professional Development

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
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