The Digital Layout: Educational Accolades for Our Chapter Liaison

In this month’s column, I give kudos to PCEA Chapter Liaison Scott McCurdy, who has been capturing the efforts of the PCEA to educate our members and our industry as a whole; then, I pass the mic to PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez to provide some thoughts on who’s responsible for continuing education—you or your employer?

Finally, I provide our readers with a growing list of events for 2021. 

PCEA Updates
Scott McCurdy has been a tireless force in collaborating within the printed circuit engineering industry to bring people together. Not only has Scott worked hard in the industry as director of sales and marketing for Freedom CAD Services in Orange County, California, but for years he has worked outside of the box, presiding as a leader in trade organizations that specialize in educating their members.

Presently serving as PCEA’s chapter liaison and Orange County chapter president, Scott coordinates all the PCEA chapter leaders and inspires them to move in a consistent and helpful direction. Local PCEA chapters are actively planning their annual itineraries to serve our industry. As a leader of the Orange County chapter, Scott has worked to capture his local chapter activities. From the start of PCEA and throughout the pandemic of 2020, Scott worked with chapter members and industry educators to create a PCEA YouTube channel to spread educational presentations.

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

steph_chavez300.jpgThis month’s topic on education is a good one. I feel it’s important for many of us, especially those of us involved in printed circuit engineering, fabrication, assembly, and testing of PCBs. For me, continued education/professional development is a must to stay relevant and competitive within our industry. When I think of this topic, there are a few things that immediately pop into my mind. First, “Who’s responsible for your continued education and professional development?” Is it your employer? Is it you as an individual? These are questions I hear, and they are debated often.

Overall, I get mixed responses. Some say it’s your employer’s responsibility to provide continuing education and professional development, while others say that it’s ultimately your own responsibility. I strongly feel it’s you as an individual who is ultimately responsible for your own continuing education and professional development, not your employer. I also feel that a good company in today’s industry will view their employees as their own internal best assets and best long-term investments to be successful.

Therefore, such companies will provide opportunities and look for creative ways to provide continuing education and professional development for their employees so that the company will get its best return on investment for the overall success of the company. This also helps to cultivate a positive culture and working environment so that the potential for long term success is most likely to be achieved. Sadly, not every company takes this approach. The negative side of a company not providing these opportunities may potentially lead to a slowdown or lack of evolution, longer than normal project schedules, excessive budgets, and in worse cases, a high employee turnover rate leading to lack of long-term company success.

For those who feel that it’s their employer’s responsibility to provide for continuing education, they are at the mercy of their company for their individual evolution, which may happen at a slower pace, not at all. This will definitely have a negative impact on the company as well. It becomes a double negative. No one wins if both the company and the employee feel they are not responsible for continuing education and professional development.

Here’s my advice: 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 as we have adapted and evolved during the pandemic, there are so many opportunities to take advantage of. Between all the available online webinars and course offerings, to the many conferences now getting back to “face-to-face” engagements, there is simply so much more opportunity today than there was a decade ago.

PCEA is one of the many industry associations where you find awesome opportunities for continuing educational and professional development. A great example was the recent PCEA-Orange County chapter event led by Scott McCurdy. This event had strong attendance because it shared valuable industry content. This led to tremendous collaboration, education, and inspiration for the betterment of those who attended; this greatly benefits the industry overall. PCEA will continue to do its part of collaborating, educating, and inspiring within the industry by providing such opportunities. Be sure to stay tuned for up-to-date opportunities and industry events listed on the Events page of our website.

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 PCEA, your percentage of long-term professional development increases significantly.

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

Warmest regards,


Next Month
There are a lot of items on the PCEA roadmap which were presented in our July 9 meeting. As we evaluate our important to-do list, I’m not sure which of the items will be moving forward first. I’m sure 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 there.

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 have a significant electronics industry event to announce, please send the details to, and we will consider adding it to the list. The effects of the pandemic are still in a state of flux, so watch this column and our website for the most current information on scheduled events. If you have not yet joined PCEA, please visit our website,, and find out how to become a PCEA member.

Educating the industry is one of the key goals of the PCEA. Our leaders have been delighted to find so many educators in our industry willing to provide their knowledge and allow us to capture and present it in the spirt 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.

This column originally appeared in the August 2021 issue of Design007 Magazine



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!


In Kelly Dack's debut as the new author of this column, he provides updates on the direction and leadership of the PCEA and upcoming professional development and event opportunities, and Stephen Chavez shares his first "message from the chairman." In addition, Bob McCreight, president of the Silicon Valley Chapter, discusses their most recent “lunch and learn” event held in February.

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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


As the second half of the year is quickly passing by, the IPC Designers Council has seen lots of continued activities within our industry regarding PCB design. PCB West was held in mid-September in Santa Clara, California, and as usual, the show exceeded expectations. Stephen Chavez provides a brief breakdown of fall activities within local chapters.

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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


This month’s column highlights the Monterrey Designers Council Chapter located in Monterrey, Mexico. The chapter was established November 23, 2017, which makes it a younger chapter compared to several other global chapters currently in existence today. I also share news about a new chapter forming in Nogales, 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


This month’s column is packed with recent activities, including a spotlight on the San Diego Chapter and an interview with Luke Hausherr, the new chapter president. You’ll also find an update from the IPC Designers Council Executive Board as collaboration with the new IPC Education Foundation continues to evolve and recommended reading featuring an interview with a young designer.

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The Digital Layout: Greater Phoenix Chapter Revived


The Greater Phoenix chapter was revived in late 2018 after being largely dormant over the past few years. It has also undergone some leadership changes. As the former president, I have taken on a more active global role at the executive level of the IPC Executive DC Board as the communications officer at large. I will stay on the leadership committee for the Greater Phoenix Chapter as the VP at the request of the newly elected president, Randy Kumagai. Randy and I have already started to brainstorm with ways to kickstart the chapter’s activity in 2019.

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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


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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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