A Grand ‘Grand Opening’
The PCEA’s kickoff event was a massive success.
This month I review the virtual PCEA grand opening, which took place in July and featured guest presenter and PCEA educational committee member Rick Hartley. Next, in our “Message from the Chairman,” Steph Chavez writes of his satisfaction with our recent open house and talks about another event in which he and vice chairman Mike Creeden participated, hosted by our affiliate organization, the Surface Mount Technology Association (SMTA). Coming next month, I check in with the PCEA education committee and look at the PCEA’s role in education. What do our education committee leaders have in store? I had an opportunity to hear from them and will highlight some of their ideas and plans for learning and curricula in the coming months.

PCEA updates. The PCEA virtual open house and webinar was held Jul. 14 and was moderated by PCEA director Mike Buetow. Mike welcomed the audience and introduced PCEA chairman Steph Chavez, who had grateful words to say about our sponsors and the publishing of our columns. He then took an opportunity to state the PCEA’s mission statement: “At our core, our mission statement is to Collaborate, Inspire and Educate by promoting printed circuit engineering as a profession. Our goal is to encourage, facilitate, and promote the exchange of information and the integration of new design concepts through communications, seminars, webinars, workshops, and professional development through a network of local and regional PCEA-affiliated chapters.”

Steph mentioned the association serves over 1,000 members worldwide. There are now eight regional chapters in the US and Mexico, and the PCEA is cultivating five new additional chapters to help serve our members. The organization has quite a few noble objectives by which to meet PCB engineering challenges. Steph laid them out: “The PCEA is about meeting today’s industry challenges from concept, engineering development, standard implementation, and manufacturing, including fabrication, assembly, test, compliance, and field service. This knowledge includes details concerning printed circuit board materials, components, manufacturing processes, allowances and limitations. The final product should have high producibility, reliability and yield. This should all be confirmed by quality assurance and compliance. The Printed Circuit Engineering Association is structured for these challenges.”

PCEA’s objectives:

  1. Stimulate communication among and between printed circuit designers and others in related engineering disciplines.
  2. Disseminate information regarding current activities and new developments in design technology via newsletters.
  3. Maintain a communications link between standards bodies related to printed circuit engineering and manufacture. Coordination includes, but is not limited to, the activities of government, industry, trade associations and special interest groups.
  4. Coordinate the compilation of design standardization issues in printed circuit fabrication and assembly with related design technologies.
  5. Encourage and coordinate the compilation of design information, including equipment, equipment capability (tools and technologies) and related information.
  6. Promote the necessity of early collaboration between engineering, fabrication, assembly, test, and field service.
  7. Assist in the participation of suppliers and OEMs in chapter programs.

I’ve been to many Rick Hartley presentations. I’ve attended presentations ranging from hours to days. Regardless of length or venue, I always enjoy the points Rick makes and the way he makes them. Hartley’s emphasis on subject matter runs in a scale of magnitude from simple and personal to flat-out, in-your-face tangible.

The one-hour webinar on power distribution tips to control SI, EMI and noise did not disappoint. Rick is a master of making strikingly good points, while explaining anything related to electronic performance on PCBs. I hope all our readers had the time to tune in. In case you didn’t, here are a few excerpts:

Regarding energy in PCBs: “Energy in a circuit is not in the voltage or the current. Energy is in the electric and magnetic fields!” Also, “Energy does not travel in the copper elements, such as traces and planes. Energy travels in the space between these copper elements.”

Rick discussed many tips for SI and EMI control. He emphasized the importance of keeping inductance low and offered a few considerations for placement of vias in relationship to the positive and negative ends of a decoupling capacitor. When designing for high-speed signal integrity, Rick explained “mounted inductance” of capacitors. He showed how to lower inductance by adding a pair of vias to each end of the caps and explained the best arrangement of the vias. Rick moved on to a discussion of the importance of closely spaced power planes and the challenges to performance wrought by 2, 4, 6 and higher-layer-count stackups.

The excitement among viewers was obvious as Rick’s presentation progressed. The more he presented, the more queries we received regarding variables within which to apply the concepts. Polling showed that 78% of the audience had 11 or more years in the industry and were hungry for answers as they posed questions to our host: “What about via-in-pad?” “Is it better to have lots of same-value caps or multiple-value caps?” “What is the best tool to simulate a power distribution network?” Although the presentation was set for an hour, presenter Rick stayed on long after to address many questions.

Many thanks to Rick Hartley and our audience of viewers for making this educational experience a success!

Message from the Chairman

by Stephen Chavez, MIT, CID+

Success! PCEA has truly hit the ground running with our Virtual Grand Opening that took place Jul. 14. We had a great turn with much positive engagement and attendee feedback. Rick’s presentation was a small golden nugget of what PCEA has to offer to the industry. Our official website has been up and running now since Jun. 1, with a lot of activity and new members joining the PCEA collective. We also continue to gain industry sponsorship as well.

We have now had two outstanding global events. The first event was a great webinar opportunity PCEA had by teaming up with SMTA that took place on Jul. 9 regarding “Creating the Best Data Package.” I want to personally thank SMTA for acknowledging PCEA and seeing the value PCEA brings to the industry as a legitimate professional industry association. SMTA’s eagerness to collaborate with PCEA showed in how professional, seamless and positive the event turned out. We received awesome positive feedback from an international audience.

The second outstanding global event was PCEA’s Virtual Grand Opening, as Kelly detailed above. A truly successful grand opening launch with a lot of knowledge-hungry attendees seeking advice and industry best practice information! It was another great event! The feedback from our grand opening to date is overwhelmingly positive. That’s two awesome events now under our belt, with many more to follow. Stay tuned for more activities coming your way now that PCEA is official and extremely active.

Last, I’d like to give a very heartfelt and loud shout of “kudos” to the entire leadership team for successfully launching PCEA to the world. All the hard work and extra effort has truly paid off in bringing PCEA from concept to reality. If you have not yet joined the PCEA collective, I highly encourage you to do so by visiting our website ( and becoming a PCEA member.

I continue to wish everyone and their families health and safety.

Professional Development and Events
  • Sept. 7-Oct. 7: PCB West Virtual 2020
  • Sept. 28 – Oct. 23: SMTA International – Virtual
  • Oct. 7-9: AltiumLive (San Diego, California) – Virtual
  • Jan. 23-28: IPC Apex Expo (San Diego, California)
  • Jan. 26-28: DesignCon (Santa Clara, California)
  • May 5-6: Del Mar Electronics & Manufacturing Show (Del Mar, California)
  • May 11-13: IPC High-Reliability Forum 2021 (Baltimore, Maryland)

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.

Next month we will have an interview with the PCEA educational committee. Recently, I had an opportunity to meet with our PCEA educational committee regarding its plans. The educational committee consists of PCEA executive staff members Mike Creeden, Tara Dunn, Gary Ferrari, Rick Hartley and Susy Webb. This team has a lot of power-packed ideas and curricula lined up for our members. Our new website is being salted with many informational links and resources as I write. I look forward to writing about my informative zoom meeting discussion with this dynamic group of printed circuit engineering veterans. Stay tuned!

No matter where you may find yourself in this worldwide network of PCB engineering professionals, your trajectories for success will vector about your ability to learn and apply knowledge. I encourage you to “lock on” to the PCEA as a valuable resource for your future missions. If your aim is to learn and engage, our aim is to serve and assist. See you next month or sooner!

Kelly Dack headshot
Kelly Dack, CIT, CID+,
is the communication officer for the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA). Read past columns or contact Dack;