The Foundation of the PCEA is Laid
The Orange County chapter joins up, and a new PCEA chairman is named.
In this month’s column, I highlight the Orange County Chapter’s recent meeting and its transition from IPC to Printed Circuit Engineers Association affiliation, recent PCEA activities, and the evolution of this column, including introducing Kelly Dack, CID+, PCEA’s new communications officer.
Orange County Chapter

Scott McCurdy, president
The Orange County Chapter is doing very well in Southern California and has been active for 18-plus years. We are proudly the largest active chapter in existence, based on attendance at our quarterly meetings. We average 50 to 65 attendees at our meetings, and occasionally have 80 or more in attendance. In our most recent meeting, held Jan. 21 at the Harvard Athletic Park multipurpose room, we had an outstanding crowd of 80 people in attendance to hear the educational presentation by Gerry Partida, a senior field application engineer for Summit Interconnect.

The main topic for this meeting was Microvias: Have You Designed for Reliability? How to Detect Weak Microvias and Avoid Costly Assembly Defects and Customer Field Failures. As component pin densities get tighter with each passing year, designers have been pushed to use HDI with more microvias and blind/buried via structures. As a result, tighter via densities and signal integrity requirements in printed boards have revealed reliability concerns with microvia structures in high-performance products. Avoiding post-fabrication microvia failures is critical to the success of your products, and there are details designers need to know.

Gerry’s presentation reviewed concerns and reliability testing relating to microvias. He provided an overview of the HDI processes and presented the use of current test methods and the superiority of testing with the IPC-D-coupon and IPC-TM-650 test methods and 2.6.27. Gerry also discussed the warning statement in the forthcoming IPC-6012E": “Qualification and Performance Specification for Rigid Printed Boards.”

If you’re interested in learning from an industry subject-matter expert like Gerry Partida, attend and become a member of a local PCEA chapter in your area.

Also, Mike Creeden, Insulectro’s technical director of design education, provided an overview of the new PCEA that included its inception details, the PCEA purpose/mission, and the advantages of membership. Mike’s presentation was received extremely well with much interest and engagement by all in attendance.

At the end of the meeting, we opened the floor for discussion, as we always do. The main discussion this time was on the PCEA topic and the Orange County Chapter’s future. Leading up to the chapter meeting, our chapter officers unanimously voted to become a PCEA chapter. In the chapter meeting, chapter leadership (and Mike Creeden) let members know our new direction going forward and the decision to leave the umbrella of IPC. The chapter’s leadership decision and the new direction for the chapter were widely accepted with great enthusiasm and eagerness to move forward as part of the collective of PCEA.

I hope to see you at our next lunch ‘n learn event under our new chapter name: Printed Circuit Engineering Association – Orange County Chapter (PCEA-OCC).

PCEA Activities

Much activity continues as PCEA’s foundation is laid. Several legacy IPC chapters have made the decision to affiliate with PCEA, like the Orange County Chapter did. In early February, we held an executive board meeting. The overall structure of PCEA is forming nicely, with executive board member elections wrapping up. The newly elected executive board members will be introduced next month.

Also, PCEA’s website ( is up and running, but is still in its infancy. It is our hope to have our official website released later in March. I encourage everyone to check out the website and sign up to receive more details of PCEA as we unfold in the industry.

In the coming months, we will expand the number of chapters, while realizing a steady growth of our membership. If you’re interested in joining or starting a chapter in your area, feel free to participate and join the many professionals who are the backbone of our industry. Again, visit our website and contact us for more information.

The Evolution of ‘The Digital Route’

I have been writing this column for over a year now. It has been a huge success so far, because it has been a team effort putting it together from month to month. My main objective for this column remains to promote continued globalization of knowledge sharing and education for any and all involved in the design, fabrication, assembly, and test of printed circuit boards. Getting people to communicate more often and outside of their box is important. That is why I decided to be a contributor: for the betterment of our industry.

I will be taking on a leadership role within PCEA as chairman. In doing so, I will pass oversight of this column to a renowned colleague and dear friend of mine, Kelly Dack, CID+. I will still share my thoughts through a “message from the chairman” section within the column, but Kelly will serve as the PCEA’s communications officer and assume oversight of this column. I wish Kelly well and encourage everyone to contribute to the ongoing success of this column. We very much appreciate your readership.

Professional Development and Events

Here are some upcoming industry events to look out for in 2020. I hope you have the opportunity to attend one or more.

  • April 27-30: Zuken Innovation World Americas 2020 (Coronado, California)
  • Jun. 9-10: PCB2Day – SMT Assembly Boot Camp (Austin, Texas)
  • Jun. 11-12: PCB2Day – Design Essentials for PCB Engineers (Austin, Texas)
  • Jun. 14-20: IPC SummerCom 2020 (Raleigh, North Carolina)
  • Jun. 22-25: Realize LIVE 2020 (Las Vegas, Nevada)
  • July 7-8: Cadence Live 2020 (Silicon Valley, California)
  • Sept. 8-11: PCB West (Santa Clara, California)
  • Oct. 7-9: AltiumLive 2020 (San Diego, California)
  • Nov. 11: PCB Carolina (Raleigh, North Carolina)

As always, if you have a local or regional industry event in your area and would like to announce it, please feel free to submit the details to be listed in an upcoming column. For 2020 CID and CID+ certification schedules and locations, contact EPTAC to check current dates and availability. (Dates and locations are subject to change.)

tephen Chavez, MIT, CID+
Stephen Chavez, MIT, CID+,
is a master instructor of PCB design for EPTAC, an SME in PCB design for a major aerospace corporation, and is a member of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA);