The Digital Layout: PCB Engineering on the Move

Introduction
In this month’s column, I examine the PCB engineering job outlook and evaluate the career moves we are making. Next, PCEA Chairman Stephen Chavez shares some important attributes for personal development that will keep our edges sharp. Finally, I provide a growing list of industry events for 2021. 

PCEA Updates
The pandemic came upon us like a supersonic jet—unseen and unheard as it passed over and through us. 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 revving up once again and causing sonic shock waves of hiring activity and job movement. Were you one who was furloughed, laid off, or had your hours cut back due to the effects of the pandemic? Boom! It’s time to become an industry shock wave and clap back.

Check out the PCB industry hiring pages. There are pulses of hiring activity here in the Pacific Northwest—and most likely in your area as well. One PCB designer I know moved to a company that is staffing up for new projects, which left a void in his company. I am happy to have recently been given the opportunity to fill his position. But my movement left a void in the company I left, which is now trying to recruit another designer to fill my place. Will they hire a designer who was previously laid off? Will another designer depart his or her job to fill it? Design resource movement will go on and on and hopefully that is a good thing if we all can learn from it.

So, what did we learn from 2020?

Regardless of the 5 Ws—who, what, when, where, and why—our present state of being is subject to unforeseen circumstances. We’ve seen that a supersonically growing economy can be put on hold by the smallest of organisms—a virus in this case. We’ve seen that our strengths can become weaknesses if not paired with the diverse strengths of others. We’ve seen that no one is an island. We cannot exist alone. We’re in it together. Hopefully, we’ve seen that we need a healthy industry ecosystem full of workers—moving about—which are healthy in mind and spirit.

What must we do as we move forward?

Germinate
Write down your ideas, visions, and goals. These are concept seeds which, upon sprouting, will help you to consider options to move positively within your organization. They can help you to become a positive shock wave and foster positive movement within or even without if the culture or atmosphere becomes too compressed. 

Feed
Find your strengths and feed them. Upon starting my new position at a new company, I was delighted to receive a copy of a book by Don Clifton, Discover Your Clifton Strengths. This positive surprise let me know that the leadership of this engineering group is interested in helping me to understand my strengths and match them with the strengths of others in our engineering group.

Grow
We grow by pushing away the compost of our surroundings. We must push toward the light. As PCB engineering professionals, we must reach for technology and skill set nutrients which are easily found within the pages of this publication and the upcoming events sponsored by the PCEA and many other electronics industry organizations.

Transplant
Are you new to the PCB engineering industry? Maybe you consider yourself a seedling. You will need to learn all you can in your present position and then eventually transplant to avoid becoming root bound. Again, this may happen inside or outside your company, but it must happen. Look to your organization’s management as your gardener. For the organization to benefit, you must grow. Are you an old timer in this industry? Your management team should consider you a valuable, aged, majestic oak. Most likely you have already been transplanted many times before and are thriving because of it. You provide shade and seeds for future ideas which can be planted anew. You make it easy for them to answer the most profound PCB engineering staffing question: “When is the best time to plant a tree?” Answer: “Thirty years ago.”

Message from the Chairman

by Stephen Chavez, MIT, CID+

My message this month is short and simple. When it comes to printed circuit engineering, there is so much more to it than simply connecting the dots. It involves knowing how to design a PCB correctly, successfully steph_chavez300.jpgcollaborating with others, effectively communicating with both internal team members and your suppliers, and mastering your CAD system. These are all major attributes of most successful printed circuit engineers.

As companies and engineering teams continue to push the envelope with their designs, the use of their CAD systems, and their ability to effectively work together in bringing their respective products to market on schedule and under budget, it forces many of us to constantly evolve and to continue our professional development. It’s extremely competitive out there. Even as industry veterans with decades of experience and education, we must constantly keep evolving, learning to stay in shape, and be competitive so we don’t get left behind or, worse yet, become obsolete. That’s why PCEA is a great industry association to get involved with.   

“Collaborate, Educate, and Inspire” is the core mission of PCEA. We share the latest industry information, technologies, educational content, and industry best practices. Building long term relationships both professionally and personally, as well as mentorships, are also topics one will find within the PCEA collective. A good example of these topics in motion was our most recent event with our Orange County (California) PCEA chapter. Scott McCurdy and his leadership team brought together approximately 100 attendees to address “Designing for RF—Tips and Tricks from the PCB Pros,”[1] presented by EMA, one of our (PCEA) sponsors. Kudos to Scott and his leadership team for putting on another successful event. I also want to thank EMA for bringing excellent industry content to the table, and for everyone who attended to add to their respective bags of magic. The collaboration between PCEA and EMA was another home run.   

With so many industry webinars; Zoom, GoTo, and Teams meetings; and the flood of “free” online content out there now, we are bombarded. It’s been “information overload” for quite a while now. It’s hard to find the time to attend these industry events, and to decide which content is worth giving up an hour or more of your time for an online presentation, YouTube video, or podcast. But you can rest assured that if PCEA is putting on an event, or collaborating with another industry association, we are bringing you the best and most relevant industry content.

We’ve been on lockdown for over a year, but we are slowing coming out of it. I cannot wait to get back to attending live, in-person industry conferences. I’m sure most of you feel the same. Like always, we adapt to the times and the evolution of the industry as this new way of collaborating virtually, but there is no experience quite like attending an actual industry conference. I can’t wait to see you all in person at the next industry event. 

Over these next few months, we will be rolling out quite a bit more educational content as we integrate and collaborate with our sponsors. Our partnerships with industry sponsors allow us to present even more outstanding educational content when it comes to printed circuit engineering. I highly recommend you get involved with and join the PCEA collective, if you have not already. When you join and participate, your percentage of long-term professional development increases significantly.

I continue to wish everyone and their families health and safety. Best of success to all as 2021 continues to unfold.

Warmest regards,

Steph

 

Next Month
Next month is hopeful and wide open for coverage of a potpourri of PCEA activities. Tune in to this column for the latest events and ideas.

Upcoming Events
Below is our list of upcoming events. Hope to see you at any of these.

Zuken Innovation World 2021 (Digital Edition)
August 4-5, 2021

DesignCon 2021
August 16-18, 2021
San Jose, California

PCB West 2021
October 5–8, 2021
Santa Clara, California

SMTA International 2021
Nov. 1–4, 2021
Minneapolis, Minnesota

PCB Carolina 2021
Nov. 10, 2021
Raleigh, North Carolina

productronica
Nov. 16–19, 2021
Munich, Germany

Spread the word. If you have a significant electronics industry event that you would like to announce, please send details to kelly.dack.pcea@gmail.com, and we will consider adding it to the list.

Refer to our column and the PCEA website to stay up to date with the up-and-coming industry events: pce-a.org.

Conclusion
Sometimes it’s just way too easy to describe our work in metaphor. This month, we covered PCB engineering career movement by drawing parallels to everything from sonic booms to Gardening 101. Whether we use metaphors or cold, hard numbers and statistics—as our PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez mentions—the goal of the PCEA is to collaborate, educate, and inspire. We want you to value yourself along with those you work with and work for. We hope we are reaching you.

See you next month or sooner!

References

  1. To read a review of this webinar, click here.

This column originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of Design007 Magazine.

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2021

The Digital Layout: PCB Engineering on the Move

06-15-2021

In this month’s column, Kelly Dack examines the PCB engineering job outlook and evaluate the career moves we are making, while PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez lists some important attributes in our personal development that will keep our edges sharp.

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The Digital Layout: Test for Design—How Do You Measure Up?

05-25-2021

In this month’s column, Kelly Dack conveys the value of honing a skill set and the importance of being able to measure that skill set. Next, I hand it off to our 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 which are coming up in 2021.

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The Digital Layout: Back to Back Chapter Meetings and More

04-15-2021

In this month’s column, Kelly Dack extends an overview of two recent PCEA chapter meetings and gives a nod to two very interesting presenters, and PCEA Chairman Stephen Chavez relates a recent, personal career “crossroads” experience.

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The Digital Layout: Messages from the Chairmen

03-24-2021

In this month’s column, Kelly Dack interviews the chairman and chairman emeritus for the PCEA, who provide their shared viewpoints on the importance of organizing.

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The Digital Layout: Footprints—Small Steps with a Giant Impact

02-11-2021

Kelly Dack celebrates the importance of the humble PCB component footprint, and PCEA Chairman Stephen Chazev provides some inspiring words as we tread into the new year.

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The Digital Layout: Now, Where Were We?

01-13-2021

In this month’s column, Kely Dack shares a few terms I’ve been contemplating lately, and which I have been trying to put in context regarding the role of the PCEA within the electronics industry. Then, PCEA Chairman Stephen Chavez to inspire us for a fresh start in the new year. Finally, he provides us with a list of events which are coming up.

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2020

The Digital Layout: PCEA 2020—Small Rearview Mirror, Big Windshield

12-10-2020

In this month’s forward-driving column, Kelly Dack glances back at PCEA’s year in “rearview," and PCEA Chairman Stephen Chavez focuses on what lies ahead. Dack also points out some interesting events for you to consider attending.

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The Digital Layout: PCEA and Industry Leaders Who Happen to Be Women

11-20-2020

In this month’s column, Kelly Dack introduces a few of our inspiring PCEA leaders who happen to be women and teases some upcoming coverage we’ll be doing on one of the PCEA’s educational networking events. PCEA Chairman Stephen Chavez also offers his take on the importance of diversity in a collective organization.

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The Digital Layout: Local Chapters—You Can Distance This Body But Not These Senses

10-23-2020

Kelly Dack shares a few thoughts on the formation of PCEA chapters as far as where they’re at and where they need to go, and PCEA Chairman Stephen Chavez offers some encouraging words for these extended times of COVID-19.

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The Digital Layout: Education Unlocks the Golden Door to Freedom

10-09-2020

Kelly Dack speaks with the PCEA Educational Committee regarding the team’s take on the PCEA’s role in education. What do they have in store? PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez also weighs in on the strength of our education committee and why it is crucial to the PCEA’s mission.

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The Digital Layout: It’s Official—1,000+ PCEA Members Worldwide

08-27-2020

Kelly Dack reviews the virtual PCEA grand opening, which took place on July 14, 2020 and featured guest presenter and PCEA educational committee member Rick Hartley. He also checks in with the PCEA education committee, and PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez also shares his satisfaction with the PCEA's recent open house.

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The Digital Layout: The PCEA’s Grand Opening

07-15-2020

Kelly Dack interviews Rick Hartley about the presentation he has prepared for the PCEA’s grand opening on July 14, and PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez shares a timely message on how our time working from home is a serious matter, and how letting our guard down could be a mistake.

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The Digital Layout: An Expectation of Collaboration

06-15-2020

Kelly Dack shares updates on the PCEA website and reports on some inspiring communication on collaboration taking place between the PCEA and a well-known industry organization. Kelly also includes a "Message From the Chairman," Steph Chavez, as well as professional development opportunities and events.

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The Digital Layout: Life During COVID-19 ‘Wartime’

05-15-2020

This month, Kelly Dack shares updates on the progress the PCEA staff is making toward establishing a web presence and reports on what the PCEA is preparing in support of the PCB engineering community. Though PCEA chapter activities, as well as professional development and event opportunities, have been limited because of restrictions due to COVID-19, PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez also offers his perspective on the challenges of staying connected without using traditional means.

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The Digital Layout: Onward!

04-30-2020

In Kelly Dack's debut as the new author of this column, he provides updates on the direction and leadership of the PCEA and upcoming professional development and event opportunities, and Stephen Chavez shares his first "message from the chairman." In addition, Bob McCreight, president of the Silicon Valley Chapter, discusses their most recent “lunch and learn” event held in February.

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The Digital Layout: The Foundation of the PCEA Is Being Laid

03-17-2020

Stephen Chavez highlights the Orange County Chapter’s recent meeting and their transition from IPC to PCEA affiliation, recent PCEA activities, and the evolution of this column, including introducing Kelly Dack, CID+, PCEA's new communication officer.

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2019

The Digital Layout: Fall 2019 Recap

12-29-2019

As the second half of the year is quickly passing by, the IPC Designers Council has seen lots of continued activities within our industry regarding PCB design. PCB West was held in mid-September in Santa Clara, California, and as usual, the show exceeded expectations. Stephen Chavez provides a brief breakdown of fall activities within local chapters.

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The Digital Layout: Recent IPC DC Chapter Activities

10-23-2019

We’re onto the second half of the year now, and we’ve seen lots of activities within our local Designers Council (DC) Chapters, including a few international chapters as well. Here's a snapshot of what has taken place so far from several of our active chapters.

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The Digital Layout: New and Thriving Chapters in Mexico

08-01-2019

This month’s column highlights the Monterrey Designers Council Chapter located in Monterrey, Mexico. The chapter was established November 23, 2017, which makes it a younger chapter compared to several other global chapters currently in existence today. I also share news about a new chapter forming in Nogales, Mexico.

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The Digital Layout: Spotlight on the Orange County Chapter

06-13-2019

So, what’s so special about the Orange County Chapter? For starters, we’re fortunate that a large number of electronics companies are located in Southern California, so there are many PCB designers in our area who are thirsty for knowledge. We are also lucky to have many local PCB fabrication and assembly companies from which we draw attendees and speakers. All of the major CAE vendors have offices and technical field personnel here and have been very supportive of our chapter in hosting lunches to help us keep our costs down.

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The Digital Layout: San Diego Chapter Updates and More

05-20-2019

This month’s column is packed with recent activities, including a spotlight on the San Diego Chapter and an interview with Luke Hausherr, the new chapter president. You’ll also find an update from the IPC Designers Council Executive Board as collaboration with the new IPC Education Foundation continues to evolve and recommended reading featuring an interview with a young designer.

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The Digital Layout: Greater Phoenix Chapter Revived

03-21-2019

The Greater Phoenix chapter was revived in late 2018 after being largely dormant over the past few years. It has also undergone some leadership changes. As the former president, I have taken on a more active global role at the executive level of the IPC Executive DC Board as the communications officer at large. I will stay on the leadership committee for the Greater Phoenix Chapter as the VP at the request of the newly elected president, Randy Kumagai. Randy and I have already started to brainstorm with ways to kickstart the chapter’s activity in 2019.

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The Digital Layout: Designer Highlights From IPC APEX EXPO 2019

03-15-2019

The IPC Designers Council Executive Board meeting took place on January 29. Executive Board members in attendance included Gary Ferrari, Mike Creeden, Cherie Litson, Kelly Dack, Thomas Romont, and me. We also had Michael Schleicher, a guest representative from Germany, in attendance. Further, Dr. John Mitchell, Dave Hernandez, Colette Buscemi, Teresa Rowe, Aaron Birney, and Charlene Gunter du Plessis represented IPC.

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The Digital Layout: Cascade Designers Council Chapter and 2019 Activities

02-28-2019

Our CID+ class had four people enrolled who came from around the area. All who attended learned about how board materials affected their designs, including EMI, EMC, impedance control, power distribution techniques, board stackups, and placement strategies in more detail than what was in the CID. Further, participants took the exam first thing Friday morning. This allowed us time to attend the Designers Council “lunch-and-learn” meeting, and the Altium user group met afterward in the same location.

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The Digital Layout: Chapter Highlights and Certification Successes

01-24-2019

This month’s column highlights the San Diego chapter, which is also where IPC APEX EXPO 2019 will be held at the end of January. You will also find updates on recent CID and CID+ certification success stories, a recap of the PCB Carolina event from the Research Triangle Park (RTP) North Carolina chapter, and upcoming events, so mark your calendars for next year.

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2018

The Digital Layout: Chapter Roundup and CID+ Certification

12-12-2018

This month’s spotlight is the Silicon Valley Chapter. We held our fall quarterly meeting on October 25, 2018, at none other than Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California—yes, the site of Super Bowl 50 and the soon-to-be 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship game. This was made possible by our host, Sierra Circuits, and sponsor, Altium. We thank them both graciously. Out of 33 total RSVPs, 24 were able to attend the lunchtime meeting. Fun fact: of the members who RSVPed, six of them were CID certified and 10 were CID+ certified, with Faisal Ahmed being the most recent (hear more from him later).

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The Digital Layout: Designers Council Update and PCB Carolina 2018

10-24-2018

Welcome to the first edition of "The Digital Layout." As a current IPC Designers Council (DC) Executive Board member and a long-time active IPC member, I was nominated to be the chairman of the newly created communications subcommittee. In this role, I will be the main point of contact for global chapter communications and will work with local IPC chapter leaders to publish content in this new column. We want to utilize this column to help spread the IPC DC Executive Board’s goals like a virus.

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