Design For Excellence: Karen McConnell on Standards


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During the IPC Summer Meetings, I spoke with Karen McConnell, senior staff CAD CAM engineer with Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. Karen is a veteran PCB designer as well as an IPC committee chair and mentor. She offered an update on some of the IPC committees she chairs, the need for more mentor programs in this industry, and why you can call something a ham sandwich if you define it correctly in the standard.

Andy Shaughnessy: Karen, it’s nice to see you again. Now, you seem to be staying fairly busy—you’re a committee chair as well as an IPC mentor. Can you tell us about what’s been happening in some of the committees that you chair?

Karen McConnell: I’ll start with the Design for Excellence Committee (1-14). We recently released the IPC-2231 document on design for excellence (DFX). One of the things we’re doing immediately in the next revision is adding the phrase “Design for Excellence” in the title so that everybody knows what DFX is. The document is a guideline for a company or a group to grow or start a DFX program. It includes the science of fabrication, assembly, test, and environment. The 1-14 Subcommittee went immediately into revision because we knew that the document would never be complete. We expected it to be one of those documents that are continuously revised because of comments coming in from the industry as they start to use this document. One of the things we want to do this time with revision A is to develop a feedback loop for the industry to supply their comments or better ways of doing what we suggested.

I am also a co-chair for the Land Pattern Committee (1-13). We were trying to redo a whole revision based on things that JEDEC had proposed, but a recent decision by the 2-30 Committee is making the 1-13 Committee revisit our decision. We’re trying to come up with a plan to table some of the updates we have done, revise the 73-51 B version, correct any errors, release it, and then look at the JEDEC proposal.

Further, I’m an IPC mentor. My mentee, Kevin Kusiak of Lockheed Martin, graduated at IPC APEX EXPO last year. It is a great program if you have young engineers that you want to grow in the printed board industry. They are mentored by an experienced IPC member within your company or another company on how to navigate the IPC environment, the standards, what the standards are about, and how to take advantage of the training. They are given free admittance into IPC APEX EXPO for three years. The mentor’s and mentee’s managers have to sign off that they are committed to supporting the travel and the person’s time throughout the three-year program.

To read this entire interview, which appeared in the September 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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