The Digital Layout: Back to Back Chapter Meetings and More

In this month’s column, I extend an overview of two recent PCEA chapter meetings and give a nod to the presenters who gave of their time to cover some very interesting and relevant topics. Next, I hand it off to our PCEA Chairman Stephen Chavez who relates a recent, personal career “crossroads” experience and shares what gave him the hope and confidence to carry on. This month, I conclude with a growing list of upcoming events in 2021. 

PCEA Updates
The Michigan Chapter held a highly anticipated kickoff meeting on February 24. Chapter chairman Dugan Karnazes welcomed an international, online audience to the meeting and spoke about their excitement and anticipation of bringing local area printed circuit engineers together to fellowship and learn with a wider audience. The featured speaker was Terry Munson, owner of Forsite Inc., whose topic was “The Forensics of Dendrite Shorting.” Terry outlined Forsite’s definition of cleanliness, described no less than 16 sources of contamination which can cause dendritic shorting on PCBAs, and offered mitigation techniques.


Attendees were captivated by the presentation (Figure 1), which included explanations for a variety of PCB residue factors and sources which can contribute to the underlying causes for failure. Process malefactors include a disregard for bare board and component cleanliness, incomplete heat-activation of no-clean fluxes, poor cleaning system performance, flux and/or cleaning agent entrapment under low standoff component packages, and outside contamination. There were many follow-up questions, which validated the interest in his topic. The meeting concluded with a raffle for $200 in prizes from our generous PCEA sponsors.

Dack_Fig2_cap.jpgThe Silicon Valley Chapter hosted an online meeting February 25, featuring Joe Bevan, product manager of lamination for Insulectro, who spoke on PCB materials and their applications. Chapter chairman Bob McCreight welcomed the attendees to the “crowded” Zoom presentation meeting hall, gave a brief history of the long-standing Silicon Valley Chapter, and then introduced the speaker. Joe was supported by PCEA’s own Mike Creeden, director of education for Insulectro, to queue up and relay the many questions which streamed in during the presentation. Joe covered many valuable topics including an overview of copper foil categories, production methods, the mSAP process, and a discussion on the rewriting of IPC-4562 Metal Foil for Printed Board Applications.


During the business portions of these back-to-back meetings, Chairman Stephen Chavez showcased two new PCEA chapters, both of which had leaders attending the meetings: Luis Saracho, chairman of the Monterrey, Mexico Chapter, and Zachariah Peterson, who recently started the Portland, Oregon Chapter.


Message from the Chairman

by Stephen Chavez, MIT, CID+

This month, I reflect on the essence of PCEA and the benefits of membership within the PCEA collective. More specifically, are you experiencing the value of giving and receiving as a PCEA member? I want to share a recent experience of mine that I think many of you can relate to. It spotlights the true value of PCEA membership.

“Collaborate, Educate, and Inspire” is the core mission of PCEA. As we come off a tough year for our industry, 2021 has many companies adjusting, adapting, and making tough decisions about how to survive, move forward, and be successful. This calls for changes that may potentially be either good or bad, depending on what side of the decision you fall on.   

Like most of you, I have a day job. I bring my A-game every time I strap into my “cockpit” here in my office, where I conduct business as a printed circuit engineer. I am always confident and have no hesitation when wielding my CAD system to either design complex PCB circuits solo or while integrating and collaborating with global engineering teams. My 30+ years of industry experience provides me with a certain level of confidence, allowing me to walk with a swagger. Yet, I am not invincible by any means! I’m not impervious to changes or tough decisions that are beyond my control.

steph_chavez300.jpgRecently, I found myself contemplating the direction of my future and I needed to make decisions which could seriously impact the trajectory of my career path—each option had its potential pros and cons, which made the decisions even more difficult. I am sure many of you can relate to what I am talking about. If you’re early in your career and have not yet experienced this, you will at some point come to a crossroads in your career. I know many industry veterans would agree.

As I evaluated my situation and contemplated my options, hoping I was seeing things from every angle, I realized that, even with all my experience, I could benefit from advice and a support network where I could discuss ideas and seek advice from others like me. So, what did I do? I tapped into my immediate PCEA network, which consisted of many industry veterans and professionals who have been at these similar crossroads. As I worked the situation alongside my established network, I realized they have become lifelong, personal friends as well. They provided solid advice as we worked the problem together. You see, I was not alone! More importantly, I had the horsepower of the PCEA collective there to support me. The core PCEA mission was in full effect: collaborate, educate, and inspire. I was collaborating with other members to work the situation. I was being educated by members who have been at these crossroads before and could provide solid advice. Lastly, I was being inspired by my longtime mentors who were counseling me, while at the same time I was inspiring others around me on how I handled myself and how I was addressing the situation as an industry professional.

The best thing about this level of support was having others reach out and put me at ease; I knew I had a safety net through PCEA to rely on. 

You may be in a similar situation, in one form or another. Some have no idea what to do or which direction to go in; even worse, they might not have anyone to reach out to for advice. But when I think about what I just went through, as well as the early years of my career coming out of the Marine Corps in 1995 with no civilian industry experience and no support network to tap into, I had no choice but to go down the road of “hard knocks.” That was a tough and long road indeed, and I know many of you can relate to this.

Many of us coming out of the military or college, or who are industry veterans like myself, may be facing similar crossroads in their careers. Knowing what I know now and knowing what PCEA offers as an industry association is simply awesome! The three words in our mission statement say it all, and I am very happy PCEA exists today. I wish I had had something like PCEA early on in my career path. I hope that those who have not yet become a PCEA member will join us and tap into this tremendous professional trade association. For our current members, please take advantage of the PCEA collective, join a chapter for awesome professional development, and gain great professional networking.

Refer to our column and the PCEA website to stay up to date on industry events. There are a lot of free webinars being offered, so take advantage of these opportunities. If you have not yet joined the PCEA collective, please visit for details on becoming a PCEA member.      

I wish health and safety to you and your families. Best of success to all as 2021 continues to unfold.

Warmest Regards,


Next Month
How do you hone your printed circuit engineering skills? Are your skills measurable? The PCEA has much in store for our readers regarding career training and certification that you will not want to miss.

Upcoming Events
Below is a newly seeded list of upcoming events which is sure to get you excited about travelling again. We must each do our best to follow CDC guidelines and take the precautionary measures—including hand-washing, masking and vaccination as possible—to squash the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. We’re still in this together!

Nepcon China
April 21–23, 2021
Shanghai, China

(Canceled) SMTConnect 2021
May 4-6, 2021
Nuremberg, Germany

(Canceled) IPC High Reliability Forum
May 11–13, 2021
Baltimore, MD

Del Mar Electronics & Manufacturing Show
June 2–3, 2021
Del Mar Fairgrounds, San Diego, CA

PCB East 2021
June 15–17, 2021
Marlborough, MA

Zuken Innovation World 2021 (Virtual)
August 4-5, 2021

DesignCon 2021
August 16–18, 2021
San Jose, CA

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

Nov. 16–19, 2021
Munich, Germany

PCB Carolina 2021
Nov. 10, 2021
Raleigh, NC

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

Sometimes we can find ourselves at the crossroads of several career unknowns. During these times, we need comfort and confidence that things will work out regardless of which path is followed. Thankfully, we have various opportunities to join a network of peers who can help us pivot if the road begins to spiral downwad. Belonging to any or many of the electronics industry’s meaningful trade organizations can help us to chart our paths onto the high road for success through communication and collaboration, which can lead to opportunities to be educated, then to educate—to be inspired and then to inspire.

See you next month or sooner!

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



The Digital Layout: Back to Back Chapter Meetings and More


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