The Digital Layout: Electronics Data Format Collaboration—Help Wanted

This month, I share some critical staffing requirements which need to be filled within the PCEA. Our Chairman, Steph Chavez, then expresses his excitement regarding the PCEA’s involvement in recent electronics industry trade shows. I wrap up by providing our readers with a list of upcoming events. 

PCEA Updates
This month’s Design007 Magazine topic examining data formats aligns perfectly with the goals of the PCEA. The three data formats—Gerber, IPC-2581, and ODB++—are similar, yet very different regarding how they are leveraged by the differing stakeholder requirements of the PCB fabricator, assembler, and designer. The topic content is sure to raise as many questions as differing perspectives. Though, in the end, the data formats will never be expected to merge into one common industry standard solution providing all data needs to all stakeholders. A miraculous event such as this, if it ever could happen, might be called collaboration. Unfortunately, though, in our industry it seems as though collaboration rarely occurs without a profit motive.

As a nonprofit, PCEA’s goal is to provide a place for all printed circuit engineering stakeholders to collaborate, educate, and inspire one another. We’ve been at it for over a year now, during some very tough times within our industry, and there has come a time for us to put out a call for help. While the PCEA has representation from some very heavy hitters in many disciplines of the printed circuit engineering industry, we are inherently made up of leadership and membership which stems from the design portion of our industry. A few years ago, we consciously focused on the name of our organization to include the word engineering as opposed to design in order to include all the other important stakeholders—manufacturers, assemblers, test engineers, suppliers and others—along with designers, to collaborate, educate, and inspire each other. We are the Printed Circuit Engineering Association—not a design association—and if you are a stakeholder working on the manufacturing, test, assembly, procurement, or inspection of printed circuits, we need your help.

We have an immediate need for executive level representation from the many complementing stakeholder areas mentioned above. We are asking for your help in stepping up and proactively representing your respective colleagues in our organization. We are looking for individuals who can unite with other representative stakeholders within our organizational chapters. We need your alter-design stakeholder perspective to homogenize our thinking as we move forward to serve this great industry. Are you willing to step in and serve? The pay is non-existent but the rewards of service in the PCEA can change your career trajectory overnight. If you are interested, contact PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez through our website contact page ( and let him know you believe that the PCEA should be more than design and design education; it needs to collaborate, be educated, and inspired by your alternatively important subject matter expertise.

Message from the Chairman
As we start October, respective workloads and industry events are in full swing. PCEA is coming off its first official booth on a convention hall floor at a major industry “in person” conference. PCEA’s booth at DesignCon 2021 steph_chavez300.jpgwas a great success. The marketing and events team did an amazing job bringing this together and showcasing polished professionals. They sure hit a home run on this one. Kudos to the PCEA team and to the support team of DesignCon for another successful event, especially considering today’s circumstances and resurgence of the pandemic and a new variant. Even with this, PCEA did its part in collaborating with other associations or groups for the betterment of the industry.

We continued that same positive momentum going into another local PCEA chapter (Orange County) event on September 1. Although this was another successful virtual webinar, with great design and manufacturing content, the word on the street, per my follow-up conversation with local chapter Chairman Scott McCurdy, is chapter members can’t wait to get back to their previous in-person meetings. I couldn’t agree with them more. I was very excited to see over 100 attendees sign up and attend; a very strong industry engagement indeed. I love the continued collaboration between PCEA and American Standard Circuits, a PCEA sponsor and host of the event, and I want to personally thank American Standard Circuits for its continued support of PCEA. I thought the two topics presented, “Next Gen Line/Space Capability for PCB Designs” and “An Overview of Via Fill—Choosing the Right Type for Your Design Application,” were on point for today’s complex PWB designs needs. If you were not able to attend this event, no worries. Look for the recording of it soon to be listed on our website.

With DesignCon in our rearview mirror, the next major event is PCB West, October 5–8. As I was not available to attend DesignCon, I will be attending PCB West. It will be my first industry event since the pandemic started. I am so excited to travel and attend this event but would be lying if didn’t say I am a bit cautious and nervous with the travel logistics aspect related to the pandemic. I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way, but I am so looking forward to finally getting back into my element of in-person engagement, integration, and collaboration. I hope to see many of you there. I have no doubt that it will be another great industry conference.

After PCB West, there are two more outstanding scheduled conferences to attend here in the U.S.: SMTA International 2021 and PCB Carolina 2021. Both are highly recommended conferences to attend. Productronica is an overseas conference November 16–19 in Munich, Germany and is a great one to attend as well. So, there are lot of industry activities and opportunities taking place in these last remaining months of 2021. I hope you’ll be able to take advantage of at least one of them.

As for PCEA membership and local chapter growth, we’re continuing our positive trend upward. PCEA prides itself being an association for everyone in the industry. This means that we highly value every individual member, not just large corporations. PCEA is a common collective for everyone in the industry. As the saying goes, “There is strength in numbers.” The collective of PCEA is only as good as its individual members. Therefore, as of today, our collective strength is extremely strong, and our positive synergy is very high indeed. We are now up to roughly 17 current local PCEA chapters with about six more in the infancy stage. It’s amazing to see people who have that same knack tend to come together and flourish as a group. Check out our Events page for more.   

As always, if you have anything to do with printed circuit engineering, I highly recommend you get involved with and join the PCEA collective, if you have not already. By joining the PCEA collective, your percentage of long-term professional development increases significantly.

Stay up to date with the up-and-coming industry events. There are so many free webinars, so please take advantage of these opportunities. To join the PCEA collective, please visit our website,      

I continue to wish you and your families health and safety. Best of success as 2021 comes into its final months.

Warmest regards,

Stephen V. Chavez MIT, CPCD, CID+,


Next Month

As the industry marches on, I plan to interview new recruits to the PCEA from PCB fabrication, assembly, testing, and procurement. We’ll discuss their plans to help attract more diversity into the PCEA and help foster collaboration, education, and inspiration.

Upcoming Events
Here is our list of upcoming events. Hope to see you there.

PCB West 2021
October 5–8, 2021
Santa Clara Convention Center
Santa Clara, CA

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

Nov. 16–19, 2021
Munich, Germany

PCB Carolina 2021
Nov. 10, 2021
Raleigh, NC

Altium Live 2022
Jan 26–28, 2022
San Diego Convention Center
San Diego, CA

Jan 22–27, 2022
San Diego Convention Center
San Diego, CA

PCB East 2022
April 11–13, 2022
Marlborough, MA

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

It is often said there is strength in diversity. There is power in multiple points of view.

As a newer organization (and like many others), the PCEA has experienced the folly of groupthink and being over-represented by any one industry discipline. Likewise, we’ve also experienced the challenges presented by inviting open expression representing diversity of thought and multiple points of view. As we move forward, we are thankful believers that success in an organization and an industry as a whole is far better off after considering the perspectives of an entire body—not just the arm or leg.

As a nonprofit, we don’t ask for much. But this month we are asking you to help us in our quest for diversity. We look forward to hearing from any “ankles, knees, hips, and heads” out there who wish to make a difference. We love the diverse perspectives shared in Design007 Magazine. We can’t wait to work together within our chapters to pour these perspectives into the collaborative blender of our organization. Hopefully, someday, we can become inspired to shake hands, learn, collaborate, and pour out a smoothie of PCB data—or anything for that matter—which would be healthy for our entire industrial body. We hope you agree and can help us. Press pulse twice, blend, and drink up.

See you next month or sooner!

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



The Digital Layout: Electronics Data Format Collaboration—Help Wanted


In this month’s column, I share some critical staffing requirements which need to be filled within the PCEA. As always, we’ll hear from our Chairman, Steph Chavez, as he expresses his excitement regarding the PCEA’s involvement in recent electronics industry trade shows. Then I’m happy to close out by providing our readers with a list of upcoming events.

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The Digital Layout: Interaction—The Cure for Industry Contraction


In this month’s column, I share reports from our PCEA leadership on a flurry of activity over the past month. Next, I highlight some inspiring words which our Chairman Steph Chavez recently delivered to our executive staff. Again, I am happy to provide our readers with a list of events which are coming up in 2021 and 2022.

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The Digital Layout: Educational Accolades for Our Chapter Liaison


In this month’s column, I will give kudos to our PCEA Chapter Liaison who has been capturing the efforts of the PCEA to educate our members and our industry as a whole and then pass the mic to our PCEA Chairman, Steph Chavez to provide some thoughts on the matter.

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The Digital Layout: Say What You Do—Do What You Say


In this month’s column, Kelly Dack provides answers to some common questions about joining an electronics industry organization. PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez conveys his excitement and anticipation of events to come and how the PCEA will be involved.

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The Digital Layout: PCB Engineering on the Move


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?


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


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


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


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The Digital Layout: Now, Where Were We?


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


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


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


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The Digital Layout: Education Unlocks the Golden Door to Freedom


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


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The Digital Layout: The PCEA’s Grand Opening


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


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’


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!


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


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The Digital Layout: Fall 2019 Recap


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The Digital Layout: Recent IPC DC Chapter Activities


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


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The Digital Layout: Spotlight on the Orange County Chapter


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


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The Digital Layout: Greater Phoenix Chapter Revived


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The Digital Layout: Designer Highlights From IPC APEX EXPO 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


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


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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The Digital Layout: Chapter Roundup and CID+ Certification


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


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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