IPC Designers Council Viewpoint: Gary Ferrari


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When we started putting together our coverage of the Designers Council, we knew we’d have to get the real scoop from Gary Ferrari. He’s been helping to raise the status of the PCB designer for decades. As co-founder and longtime executive director of the Designers Council, as well as an IPC Master Instructor, Gary has dedicated a big part of his career to PCB design. After decades of service, he was inducted into the IPC Hall of Fame at IPC APEX EXPO this year.

I caught up with Gary and asked him to fill us in on the creation of the Designers Council, and some of the changes he’s seen in the organization in the last 24 years.

Andy Shaughnessy: You’re often referred to as the “Founder of the Designers Council.” How did you get involved and who else helped get the DC started?

Gary Ferrari: As you know, Dieter Bergman and I worked together on many of the standards that affect designers. We also did several designer-oriented workshops. One day, Dieter asked me what more IPC could do for the design community. My answer was very simple: “Mechanical engineers have the ASME, electrical engineers have IEEE, and the designers have sore eyes from staring at their monitors. What we need is a society for board designers, and anyone with a vested interest in board design.”

In 1991, we hit the road and traveled throughout the U.S. to introduce a new design standard. It also gave us an opportunity to poll the attendees to hear their comments on whether an IPC Designers Council was a good idea. We also asked them what they felt its charter should be. The primary feedback was designer education, a forum to discuss common interests, and network building. In summary, they liked the idea of a designer society.

However, an issue was IPC’s membership structure. Their membership is company-based, whereas a society is generally individual-based, similar to SMTA. After consulting with IPC’s legal counsel, we were able to structure the Designers Council as a chapter-based entity, thus allowing for individual membership. 

Shaughnessy: Where was the first official DC meeting held, and when? 

Ferrari: Its official birth was in 1992. Dieter and I were making the rounds doing design-related workshops at that time, and spreading the word. Chapters started forming at a tremendous rate. We were up to 29 chapters within several months.

What is interesting to note is that a group of Atlanta designers had been meeting together for about a year under the leadership of Fred Pescitelli, at Phoenix Designs. They met to learn from each other, learn about new technologies, etc. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? They listened to what we offered, voted, and Atlanta became the first official chapter of the IPC Designers Council.

No matter where I traveled, the local designers basically said the same things. One that comes to mind was in Atlanta. One of the well-known designers, when asked the how he felt designers were viewed, indicated that the attitude was that designers were “pond scum.”  We can certainly laugh at his colorful description, but I received similar answers no matter where I traveled.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the December 2015 issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.

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