McCurdy: How to Build a Successful IPC Designers Council Chapter


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As a Southern California native and an industry veteran, the name Scott McCurdy is a familiar one for me. Scott has been in the electronics industry for 40+ years. Thirty-two of those years were spent building and running McCurdy Circuits, a successful PCB fabrication facility in Orange County. These days, Scott is focused on the design side of things as the director of sales and marketing for Freedom CAD Services, the largest independent design bureau in the nation.

In his not-so-spare-time, he is also the president of the largest chapter of the IPC Designers Council in the country. Despite the fact that I’ve known about Scott since the mid-1980s, we only just met within the last year. Shortly after meeting Scott, he began encouraging me to attend the local Designers Council meetings that he hosts approximately 3–4 times per year in Irvine, California. Thankfully, although I stood him up for a couple of meetings, he persisted (a little friendly harassment) and eventually, pushing skepticism aside, I got around to finally experiencing what he was so enthused about.

From Reluctance to Raving Fan

When I finally made that first meeting last March, I arrived late. As I tried to slink in the door unnoticed, I awkwardly realized there wasn’t an empty seat in the house--until one magically appeared in the back of the room. I was awestruck by the attendance of 77 otherwise busy designers and electronics professionals who filled the room. Tom Hausherr of PCB Libraries was the featured speaker for my first meeting.

The next meeting was held in June at a member location, Broadcom. That meeting featured two speakers: Matt Isaacs, technical director of Broadcom and Julie Ellis, a field application engineer with TTM; nearly 100 people attended. My third meeting, which took place at Harvard Park Community Center in Irvine on November 18, broke the attendance record for their home meeting location, topping out at 89 attendees. Chris Heard of CSH Consulting gave a rich and granular talk about signal integrity and power issues relative to routing guidelines and layout features. At these meetings, I witnessed designers being granted access to a very high level of educational and networking opportunities that deeply enriched and inspired them to grow as professionals. In some cases, it has inspired them to even further their formal education or certifications that helps them compete in a fierce global marketplace. In a matter months, I had been transformed from skeptic to a raving fan!

On Becoming the Accidental Chapter President

After the last meeting, I had the opportunity to talk at length with Scott about his 13-year tenure as the Orange County chapter president. It’s clear that he is absolutely passionate about the value of the Designers Council and the immense educational value and resources it can deliver to the industry in a convenient, low cost and regional context. In our time together, he openly shared his “playbook” on how to build and run a successful Designer’s Council chapter, which he is eager share with others who may be interested in launching a local chapter would like to emulate his success. The excitement and generosity he showed instantly compelled me to pass on both his story and his recipe for success.

When Scott made his transition from PCB fabrication to a PCB layout focus about 13 years ago, he accepted an invitation to attend our local IPC Designer’s Council. Shortly after, he was recruited to serve on the group’s steering committee. At that time, 20–25 people were regularly attending the meetings. Within 3–4 months, the chapter’s president made an unforeseen move to Arizona and he asked Scott to take his place. 

To read this entire article, which appeared in the December issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.

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