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

In this month’s column, I’ll pose some questions and give you something to consider regarding joining an electronics industry organization. Next, I’ll hand it off to PCEA Chairman Stephen Chavez, who conveys excitement and anticipation of events to come and how the PCEA will be involved. Again, I am happy to provide you with a growing list of events for 2021. 

PCEA Updates
Are you finding your place in the PCB industry? If you are 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 organization that is well matched to your areas of expertise can be monumentally beneficial to your career. It can put you in touch with others who can help you discover what you don’t know—and which you may find out you needed to know. There are many professional development groups and trade organizations in our PCB engineering industry. Finding the right ones to join may not be as easy as you think. On the other hand, by following some of the criteria our PCB engineering quality assurance stakeholders use to find good products and services for your company, it will be easier to narrow you’re your list because you know some valuable things to look for.

Many of us in the PCB engineering industry do not necessarily specify or qualify materials ourselves. But we might work closely with those who take part in qualifying the materials and manufacturers who 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 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 or are associated with industry organizations and look for conformance to quality standards.

Let’s reflect on our own resource requirements for a moment. As mentioned before, we may not be tasked in our day-to-day jobs to find sourcing for the next super-computer chip or specially formulated material to route its circuitry on. But regardless of our professional part in the printed circuit engineering industry, we can benefit from using some of the same audit criteria to qualify a professional organization we choose to associate with.

Quality auditors look for several important things when evaluating a new supplier with which to engage in successful, mutually beneficial, long-term business relationships. Let’s think for a few moments about how some of 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 trustees well-known members of the community or relevant industry? Are they diversely represented? Are they transparent and communicative, free of any potential conflicts of interest? Are their business dealings and the mission of the organization clear and consistent?
  • Does the organization offer education and training for the goods they provide? If there is a charge, is it of justifiable value?
  • Can the organization readily provide documentation and explanation of its business ethics and value to the stakeholders it serves?

Maybe you have some criteria of your own. It is important that the organizations you reach out to for information are responsive to your interests and respond quickly with details on how they not only can connect you with information which can help your career, but demonstrate ways you can become vested in the organization’s membership. At the very least, a potential trade organization should be able to offer you a tangible description of what it stands for. Its purpose and mission must be aligned with your need for understanding and desire for engagement in order to engage in a successful, mutually beneficial, long-term relationship.

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

Wow, it’s hard to believe the year is half over and summer is in full swing. I live in Arizona; our monsoon season has started and we’re feeling those triple digit temperatures. As these days/months are flying by, it just seems as if 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 evolves and grows, the original vision that has become our mission statement Stephen Chavez mug.JPG(Collaborate, Educate, and Inspire) is ever more a reality. Personally, it is about making a positive difference in our industry by helping others to be successful and succeed in life. We do this by networking, sharing experiences both good and bad, passing on knowledge while inspiring others, or to be inspired by others. That’s PCEA at our core.

The PCEA vision is unfolding as our individual chapter activities gain momentum and our chapter growth flourishes. As new members continue to join the PCEA collective daily, along with our sponsorships and affiliations, the PCEA synergy is spreading as we envisioned. It’s truly amazing to see the positive energy through true collaboration in each chapter, and each member.

Now that we are coming out of the pandemic darkness and COVID-19 restrictions loosen (if not going away), we are finally getting back to in-person interactions, and without those face masks. I think our hands have aged faster than the rest of our body due to the constant washing and sanitizing. Industry trade shows and conferences are coming back to life with a few of them already having taken place with much success. Yahoo and thank God.

Because we are back to in-person interactions, the second half of this year will be awesome regarding industry events such as DesignCon 2021, SMTA international, PCB Carolina 2021, and PCB West 2021, to name a few. I simply cannot wait to attend my first industry face-to-face conference or trade show. It is so long overdue, in my opinion. When I speak with other industry friends and colleagues who have already attend a live industry event in person, I am amused to see that they are filled with excitement and a kind of “happy conference euphoria,” yet exhausted from being out of conference “shape.”

So, I look forward to the hustle and bustle of traversing through crowded airports and congested rental car parking lots or even taking Ubers and taxis just to get to my first live conference. I simply cannot wait; it’s similar to when we were kids just a few days before Christmas morning. The excitement is building inside me, that’s for sure. You can also be assured you will see a PCEA presence at many of these conference and trade shows one way or another. Whether greeting visitors at a conference booth on the showroom floor, or at an informal meeting with other fellow members, PCEA will be there. So, look for us, join in on the conversations, and integrate as you see fit. We would love to engage and interact with you face-to-face.

As always, if you have anything to do with printed circuit engineering, I highly recommend you get involved with and join the PCEA collective—your percentage of long-term professional development increases significantly.

Refer to our column and the PCEA website to stay up to date on up-and-coming industry events. There are many free webinars out there, so take advantage of these opportunities. Visit us at      

I wish health and safety to you and your family. 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 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 chord, 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. There was also a lengthy question and answer period at the end which added great value with audience participation in this webinar format.

As the pandemic wanes and California starts to open, 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 Designer program, authored by several renowned members of the PCEA and offered through EPTAC Corporation.

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

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

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

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

PCB Carolina 2021
Nov. 10, 2021
Raleigh, North Carolina

Nov. 16–19, 2021
Munich, Germany

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

We hope you will look at all the information and resources on our PCEA website, broadcast through our online chapter presentations, and written about in this column. Indeed, we want to 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 a difference in your PCB engineering career.

See you next month or sooner!

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



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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