Learning from the Quality Auditors
Those who buy and specify every day have much to teach us about the industry.
Are you finding your place in the PCB industry? Are you feeling a bit disconnected from the rest of the world as you perform your PCB engineering job? Maybe you should consider joining a trade organization. Aligning and participating with a trade org that is well matched to your areas of expertise can be a monumental benefit to your career. It can put you in touch with others who can help you discover what you don’t know, but perhaps you’ve needed to know!

Our industry has many PCB engineering development groups and trade organizations. Finding the right ones to join may not be as easy as you think. Following some of the criteria PCB engineering quality assurance stakeholders use to find good products and services for their company makes it easier to narrow the list.

Many in the PCB engineering industry do not specify or qualify materials directly. But we might work closely with those who take part in qualifying the materials and manufacturers that are responsible for checking out and making important decisions regarding the quality of the materials or processes offered. It could be valuable to understand how these industry stakeholders of ours set up business relationships and roadmaps for moving forward.

All these folks – sometimes referred to as quality auditors – have something in common when they search for resources and providers: They often belong to industry organizations whose quality standards they use to determine conformance.

Let’s reflect on our own resource requirements for a moment. As mentioned, our day-to-day jobs might not require sourcing the next supercomputer chip or specially formulated material to route its circuitry on. Regardless of our professional part in the printed circuit engineering industry, however, we can benefit from some of the same criteria quality auditors use to qualify any professional organization we associate with.

Quality auditors look for several important things when evaluating a new supplier to engage in mutually beneficial, long-term business relationships. Think for a few moments about how these criteria can be applied to evaluating an industry trade organization. When searching for a trade organization to join, wouldn’t you want to “audit” and check for some of the following?

  • A culture of operational compliance. Are their standards and operating procedures documented? Do they say what they do and do what they say? Do they provide open book operations with clearly defined stakeholders and areas of responsibility and traceability?
  • Social compliance. Are the management personnel or board of directors well-known members of the community or industry? Are they diversely represented? Are they transparent and communicative, free of any potential conflicts of interest? Are their business dealings and the organization mission clear and consistent?
  • Does the organization offer education and training for the goods they provide? If they charge for training, is it of justifiable value?
  • Can the organization readily provide documentation and explanation of their business ethics and value to the stakeholders they serve?

Maybe you have criteria of your own. The organizations you contact should be responsive to your interests and reciprocate with a speedy response detailing how they can help connect you with information to help your career and demonstrate ways you can become vested in the organization’s membership. At the very least, a trade organization should offer a tangible description of what they stand for. Their purpose and mission must be aligned with your needs for understanding and desire for engagement.

Message from the Chairman
by Stephen Chavez, MIT, CID+

It’s hard to believe the year is half over and summer is in full swing. Here in Arizona, with our monsoon season just starting and those triple-digit temperatures in full swing, summer is definitely here! As the days and months fly by, it seems there is never enough time, and the never-ending workloads keep piling up. (Don’t even get me started on those “Honey do lists.”)

As PCEA continues to evolve and grow, the original vision that begat our mission statement – Collaborate, Educate, and Inspire – has become reality. For me personally, it has always been about making a positive difference in our industry by helping others be successful, at work and in life. Doing this by networking, sharing experiences (good and bad), passing on knowledge, and inspiring others. That’s PCEA at our core!

Our individual chapter activities continue to gain momentum and our chapter growth flourishes. As new members join the PCEA, along with our sponsorships and affiliations, the synergy is spreading as we envisioned it. It’s amazing to see positive energy spread as we see true collaboration take place from chapter to chapter, and from member to member globally.

Now that we are coming out of the pandemic darkness and Covid-19 restrictions loosen, we are finally getting back to face-to-face interactions, without those face masks! I think our hands have aged faster than the rest of our bodies thanks to the constant washing and sanitizing. Industry trade shows and conferences are coming back to life. Hooray!

Because we are back to face-to-face interactions, the second half of this year will be awesome, regarding industry events such as DesignCon, SMTAI, PCB Carolina and PCB WEST, to name a few. I cannot wait to attend my first face-to-face industry event. Long overdue, in my opinion. Friends and colleagues who have already attended a live industry event come across as excited and euphoric, yet exhausted from being “out of conference shape,” if that makes sense.

So, I look forward to the hustle and bustle of traversing crowded airports and congested rental car parking lots or even taking Ubers and taxis just to get to my first in-person conference. Be assured you will see a PCEA presence at many of these conferences and shows, either at a booth on the show floor or at an informal meeting with other fellow members. Look for us, and feel free to join the conversations. We love to engage and interact with you face-to-face.

I continue to wish everyone and their families health and safety. Best of success to all as 2021 unfolds.

Warmest regards,

Chapter Activity
by Scott McCurdy
PCEA-Orange County chapter president

The PCEA-Orange County chapter in southern California held a successful virtual “Lunch ‘n Learn” event on May 19. Hosted by EMA Design Automation, senior field applications engineer Orlen Bates gave an educational presentation on Designing for RF – Tips and Tricks from the PCB Pros.

The topic of RF design must have struck a nerve, as this meeting drew an audience of 98 printed circuit professionals, making it one of the largest events in our chapter history.

Orlen’s many decades of manufacturing and design experience fueled his talk and the images and examples he presented provided a valuable learning opportunity of the best practices and how to avoid design pitfalls to those in the audience. A lengthy question and answer period at the end added great value and audience participation in this webinar format.

As California starts to open as the pandemic is waning, we hope that later this year our chapter will be able to have in-person events again. We all miss that great feeling of being in a large group of our fellow colleagues interacting in these educational and interesting events.

Next Month
August is sure to be a time for “doing what we say” as far as the PCEA’s commitments for engaging in activities to collaborate, educate and inspire those both inside and outside our organization. We hope to bring you more information regarding PCEA’s role in certifying those who have completed the Printed Circuit Engineering Professional program, authored by several renowned members of the PCEA.
Upcoming Events
Below is our list of upcoming events. Hope to see you at any of these!

  • PCB West
    Oct. 5-8, 2021
    Santa Clara Convention Center
    Santa Clara, CA
  • SMTA International
    Nov. 1-4, 2021
    Minneapolis, MN
  • Productronica
    Nov. 16-19, 2021
    Munich, Germany
Spread the Word
If you have a significant electronics industry event to announce, send me the details at, and we will consider adding it to the list.
We hope you will look at all the information and resources the PCEA has published on our website, broadcast via many of our online chapter presentations and what we have printed right here in this column and see what our organization is doing to collaborate, educate and inspire. We indeed say what we do and do what we say when it comes to being a trade organization that will pass your audit for value, integrity and making difference in your PCB engineering career.

See you next month or sooner!

Image of Kelly Dack
Kelly Dack, CIT, CID+,
is the communication officer for the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA). Read past columns or contact Dack at