Cleaning Up
Help navigating career decisions is part of the value of PCEA.
In this month’s column, I extend an overview of two recently held PCEA chapter meetings and give a nod to two interesting presenters who gave their time to cover relevant topics. Next, I hand it off to PCEA chairman Steph Chavez who relates a recent personal career “crossroads” experience and shares what gave him the hope and confidence to carry on. This month, I am excited to provide our readers with a growing list of events coming in 2021.
Chapter Updates
The Michigan Chapter held a highly anticipated kickoff meeting on Feb. 24. Chapter chairman Dugan Karnazes welcomed an international online audience to the meeting and spoke about the excitement and anticipation of bringing local area printed circuit engineers together to learn alongside a greater audience. The featured speaker for the event was Terry Munson, owner of Foresite, who presented The Forensics of Dendrite Shorting. Munson offered his definition of cleanliness, then described no less than 16 sources of contamination that cause dendritic shorts on PCBAs and offered mitigation techniques (FIGURE 1).

Attendees were captivated throughout the presentation, which included explanations for a variety of PCB residue factors and sources that contribute to 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 for Munson, validating the audience’s interest. The meeting concluded with a raffle for $200 in prizes from our generous PCEA sponsors.

A Feb. 25 Silicon Valley Chapter meeting was hosted online with featured speaker Joe Bevan, product manager of lamination for Insulectro, on PCB materials and their applications (FIGURE 2). Chapter chairman Bob McCreight welcomed the attendees to the crowded Zoom presentation meeting hall. McCreight gave a brief history of the longstanding Silicon Valley chapter before introducing Bevan, who was supported by PCEA’s own Mike Creeden, technical director of design and education for Insulectro, to relay the many questions that streamed in during the presentation. Bevan 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 each of these back-to-back meetings, chairman Steph Chavez was delighted to take an opportunity to showcase two new PCEA chapters in attendance whose leadership was present to help support both events. He first welcomed Luis Saracho, chairman of the Monterrey, MX, chapter (FIGURE 3). Next, Chavez welcomed Zachariah Peterson, who recently started the Portland, OR, chapter (FIGURE 4).

Terry Munson discussed causes of dendritic shorts with the Michigan chapter.
Figure 1. Terry Munson discussed causes of dendritic shorts with the Michigan chapter.
Joe Bevan describes substrate materials at the Silicon Valley chapter meeting
Figure 2. Joe Bevan describes substrate materials at the Silicon Valley chapter meeting.
Message from the Chairman
by Stephen Chavez, MIT, CID+

For this month’s “Message from the Chairman,” I am reflecting on the essence of PCEA and the benefits of membership within the PCEA collective. Specifically, are you experiencing the value of giving and receiving as a PCEA member? I do this by sharing a recent personal experience many can relate to. It brings a spotlight to the true value of PCEA membership.

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

Like most of you, I have a day job. I bring my “A game” every time I strap myself into my “cockpit” here in my office, where I conduct business as a printed circuit engineer. Lord knows, 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 on many global engineering teams. My 30-plus years of industry experience provides me a certain level of confidence, allowing me to walk with a swagger. Yet, I am by no means invincible. Like everyone else, I am not impervious to changes or tough decisions beyond my control.

Recently, I came into a situation where I found myself contemplating the direction of my future and needed to make decisions that could seriously impact the trajectory of my career path, where each option had potential pros and cons. I am sure many of you can relate to what I am talking about. Those readers who are early in their career and have not yet experienced this will at some point come to a similar crossroads in your career.

Luis Saracho of the Monterrey, MX, chapter
Figure 3. Luis Saracho of the Monterrey, MX, chapter.
Zach Peterson of the Portland, OR, chapter
Figure 4. Zach Peterson of the Portland, OR, chapter.
As I evaluated my situation and contemplated my options, in hopes I was seeing things from every angle, I realized that 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 immediately tapped into my PCEA network. My immediate PCEA network consists 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 stood alongside me while listening to me vent and provided me with solid advice as we worked the problem together. I was not alone! More important, 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 collaborated with other members to work the situation. I was educated by members who have been at these crossroads and could provide me with solid advice. Last, I was 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 was I had others to reach out to who put me at ease, knowing that through PCEA I had a safety net on which to rely.

Many in the industry may be in a similar situation. Some have no idea what to do or which direction to go, or worse, no one to reach out to for advice. This I know: When I think about what I just went through, as well as the early years of my career when I came out of the Marine Corps in 1995 with no civilian industry experience and no support network to tap, I had no choice but to go down the road of “hard knocks.” That was a tough and long road indeed. Many readers can relate.

Knowing what I know now, and what PCEA offers as an industry association, is simply awesome! Collaborate, Educate, and Inspire: Those three words say it all. I wish I had something like PCEA early on in my career path. I hope those who have not yet become PCEA members join and tap into this awesome professional trade association. For those who are already members, take advantage of the PCEA. Join a chapter for awesome professional development and great professional networking.

Refer to our column and the PCEA website to stay up to date with the upcoming industry events. Many free webinars are available, so take advantage of these opportunities. If you have not yet joined PCEA, I highly encourage you to do so by visiting

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

Warmest regards,

Next Month
How do you hone your printed circuit engineering skills? Are your skills measureable? The PCEA has much in store for our readers regarding career training and certification you will not want to miss.
Upcoming Events
Below is a newly seeded list of upcoming events to get our readers excited about traveling again. It is up to every one of us to do the best we can to follow CDC guidelines and take the precautionary measures to squash the spread of Covid-19 and its variants, including handwashing, masking and vaccination if possible. We’re still in this together!

PCB East 2021
Jun. 15-17, 2021
Marlborough, MA

Zuken Innovation World 2021
Aug. 4-5, 2021

DesignCon 2021
Aug. 16-18, 2021
San Jose, CA

PCB West
Oct. 5-8, 2021
Santa Clara, CA

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

PCB Carolina 2021
Nov. 10, 2021
Raleigh, NC

Nov. 16-19, 2021
Munich, Germany

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.

Refer to our column and the PCEA website to stay up to date with the upcoming industry events. If you have not yet joined the PCEA, please visit our website to find out how to become a PCEA member.

Sometimes we can find ourselves at the crossroads of several career unknowns. During a time such as this, we need confidence things will work out regardless of the path followed. Thankfully, we have networks of peers who can help us pivot if the road starts to spiral into a downgrade. Belonging to any or many of the electronics industry’s meaningful trade organizations can help us to chart our paths onto the 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.
Kelly Dack headshot
Kelly Dack, CIT, CID+,
the communication officer for the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA). Read past columns or contact Dack;