Taking Charge of Professional Development
Invest in yourself: You are your own best asset!

In this month’s column, I 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, then pass the mic to PCEA chairman Steph Chavez to provide some thoughts on taking charge of your career.

PCEA Updates

This month we highlight the work of PCEA’s Scott McCurdy, a tireless force for collaboration within the printed circuit engineering industry. Not only has McCurdy worked hard in the industry as director of sales & marketing for Freedom CAD Services in Orange County, CA, but for years he has worked as a leader in trade organizations specializing in educating their members.

Presently serving as PCEA’s chapter liaison and PCEA-Orange County chapter president, McCurdy coordinates all chapter leadership and inspires them to move in a consistent and helpful direction. Local PCEA chapters are actively planning their yearly itineraries to serve our industry. From the founding of PCEA throughout the pandemic of 2020, McCurdy has worked with chapter members and industry educators to create a PCEA YouTube channel to spread educational presentations:

PCEA: Designing for RF - Tips and Tricks From the PCB Pros  Advertisement
PCEA: 6 - Innovative Solutions for Hybrid Boards Advertisement
PCEA - Achieving Optimal Stack-up Design and Electrical Performance Advertisement
PCEA - Power Distribution Tips to Control SI, EMI and Noise Advertisement
Message from the Chairman

by Stephen Chavez, MIT, CID+

This month’s topic on education is a good one. It is important to many of us, especially anyone involved in printed circuit engineering, fabrication, assembly and test of printed circuit boards (PCBs). For me, continuing education/professional development is a must to stay relevant and competitive. When I think of this topic, a few things immediately come to mind. First, who is responsible for your continuing education and professional development? Is it your employer? Is it you as an individual? These are questions I hear debated often.

Overall, I get mixed responses to those questions. Some say it’s their employer’s responsibility to provide continuing education and professional development, while others say it is ultimately up to the individual to take charge.

I feel strongly it’s up to each of us to ensure we stay on track, not our employers. Yet I also feel a good company in today’s industry views their employees as their best internal assets and best long-term investments to be successful. Such companies provide opportunities and look for creative ways to provide continuing education and professional development to get the best return on investment (ROI) from their employees. It’s a win-win. It also helps cultivate a positive culture and working environment so long-term success is most likely to be achieved.

Sadly, not every company takes this approach. The downside to abstaining from these opportunities is slow or lack of evolution, longer-than-normal project schedules and excessive budgets, and, in the worst cases, a high employee turnover rate, leading to lack of long-term company success. (For some data on the percentage of design engineers who receive company reimbursement for outside professional development, see the annual PCD&F salary survey in this month’s issue.)

Those who feel it’s their employer’s responsibility to provide for this are at the mercy of their company for their personal development, which may happen at a slower pace or, worse, not at all. This too will clearly have a negative impact on the company. It becomes a lose-lose. No one gains if neither the company nor employee feels responsible for continuing education and professional development.

My advice is take ownership of your own continuing education and professional development, whether your company provides the opportunity or not. Invest in yourself because you are your own best asset! In today’s industry, especially with how we have adapted during this pandemic, there are so many opportunities to take advantage of. Between all the available industry online webinars and online courses, to the many industry conferences now returning to face-to-face engagements, many more opportunities are available today than a decade ago.

The Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA) is one of many industry associations where you can find such awesome continuing educational and professional development opportunities. A great example is the recent event held by our Orange County chapter. This successful event had valuable work-related content that was well-received by the large contingent that attended. PCEA will continue to do our part by collaborating, educating and inspiring within the industry by providing such opportunities. Make sure you stay tuned into PCEA and up to date with opportunities and industry events listed on the events page of our website.

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

Warmest regards,


Next Month

A lot of items on the PCEA roadmap were presented in our meeting Jul. 9. As we evaluate our important list of “to-dos,” I’m not sure which will be moving forward first. Next month’s PCEA column topics will be a potpourri of subject matter coverage as the PCEA moves into trade show season.

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.

Educating the industry is one of the key goals of the PCEA. PCEA leadership is delighted to find so many educators in our industry willing to provide their knowledge and allow us to capture it and present it in the spirit of altruism. As we continue to collaborate, inspire and educate as a nonprofit, please take time to watch, comment and thank the many presenters we bring to you as a service.

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