Names to Know: Up and Comers in U.S. Congress

By Ken Schramko, IPC Senior Director, North American Government Relations

When major news occurs in the U.S. Congress, you usually hear the names of top congressional leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

However, it’s a mistake to focus only at the top. There are 435 voting members of the House and 100 senators, all of whom pay attention to their local constituents and issues that affect all Americans.

That is why IPC cultivates relationships with legislators at all levels of seniority, including more junior members who are looking to have a positive impact.

In that context, here are snapshots of eight junior members of the U.S. House with whom IPC is working because of their pragmatism, their familiarity with our industry, and their potential to make positive contributions based on their records and committee assignments.

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) is in his third term representing the northern suburbs of Chicago up to the Wisconsin border. Schneider has 14 IPC member facilities in his district as well as IPC’s world headquarters in Bannockburn. In Congress, he serves on the Ways and Means Committee and the Small Business Committee. His prior experience as a management consultant makes him knowledgeable about the challenges faced by all businesses. He has met with groups from IPC several times and worked with us on issues including tax and trade.

 

Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) is also in her third term and represents the western and northern parts of New Hampshire including Nashua and Concord. Kuster has 19 IPC member facilities in her district and serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has wide jurisdiction. Most recently, she worked with IPC in support of federal funding for R&D into the performance of lead-free electronics in high-reliability sectors such as aerospace, defense, automotive, and medical equipment.

 

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) is in his second term representing the northwestern suburbs of Chicago, including portions of Kane, DuPage, and Cook counties. The congressman has 23 IPC member facilities in his district and is well known at several of them. He serves on the House Oversight Committee, where he is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, as well as on the House Intelligence Committee. In addition, he serves as a junior member of the House Democratic leadership, positioning him for broader influence if he continues to be re-elected.

 

Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) is a freshman representing upstate New York including Utica and Binghamton. Brindisi sits on the House Veterans’ Affairs and Agriculture Committees, and he is a Co-Chair of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition and a member of the moderate New Democrat Coalition. He is a leading centrist voice on trade issues, serving on the Problem Solvers Caucus’ USMCA Working Group.

“The people of Upstate New York sent me to Congress to get things done. I’ll work with anyone to find a trade deal that works for businesses, farmers, and workers, bring down prescription drug costs, rebuild our infrastructure, and expand rural broadband. I don’t care what party someone is from, if you are willing to work, I will be at the table with my sleeves rolled up,” said Brindisi.

 

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) has served Alabama’s 5th congressional district, centered on Huntsville and northern Alabama, since 2010. He has 25 IPC member facility sites in his district and is familiar with IPC member company STI Electronics, making him knowledgeable on our industry. In Congress, he serves on the highly relevant House Armed Services Committee as well as the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

 

Among other House members of interest to IPC, Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA) has 25 IPC member facilities in her district, which covers Massachusetts’ Merrimack valley including Lowell, Lawrence and Haverhill. She serves on the Armed Services and Education and Labor committees. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) has 16 IPC member facilities in his district, covering Pinellas County on Florida’s western coast from Clearwater to St. Petersburg. Crist serves on the all-important Appropriations Committee, as well as the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. And Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) has 15 IPC member facilities in her district and serves on the Education and Labor Committee.

IPC recognizes and thanks each one of these members for their leadership, and we hope to have many opportunities to work with them on policies to create more jobs and spur more innovation in the vitally important electronics industry.

Green Circuits Hosts Latest IPC Video Production on Selective Soldering

Joe O’Neil, CEO of Green Circuits and IPC Board member, invited IPC into Green Circuits’ San Jose, Calif. facility to shoot footage for three new IPC videos including: Selective Soldering, Print Reading and Soldering Iron Tip Care.

“It was a busy week, and everyone at Green Circuits was most gracious and accommodating. Staff went way out of their way to help us and made us feel welcome and fully supported,” said Mark Pritchard, IPC video producer. “It worked out perfectly, in that they had multiple machines and we were able to shoot everything we needed to show without holding up production.”

Hai Ma, Andy Nguyen and Michael Nguyen of Green Circuits in San Jose, CA help create new IPC Training video on Selective Soldering.

Michael Nguyen hosted the production, with support from Ty Le and Shawn Pham. Machine technicians Hai Ma and Andy Nguyen provided the technical simulations.

IPC sincerely appreciates this contribution to the educational advancement of our industry. If your company would like to host an IPC video production, please contact Steve Donaldson at SteveDonaldson@ipc.org.

The Exciting Details Behind IPC’s Pledge to America’s Workers

By Chris Mitchell, vice president, global government relations

In the nine months since IPC joined in President Trump’s “Pledge to America’s Workers” and committed to creating 1 million new skilled workforce opportunities over the next five years – a fair question has been asked: Are we taking credit for actions we would have done anyway? Was this motivated by politics?

The short answer is “no,” and the longer answer is worth sharing.

As a longtime leader in education and training programs for our members, IPC was already on track to help thousands of people qualify for new and better jobs. A chronic shortage of adequately skilled workers is one of the most difficult challenges facing our industry, and we are not waiting for someone else to solve the problem.

That said, when President Trump challenged the private sector to step up and do more in this area, we took it as an opportunity to review, improve, and expand upon our educational offerings.

As a result, over the last year we have:

• Added new training courses and credentials programs to train and certify more entry-level and mid-career workers, aiming to benefit an extra 100,000 or more workers over the next five years;
• Established the IPC Education Foundation, which will invest more than $5 million over the next five years to provide curriculum tools, resources and industry-recognized credentials at the high-school and post-secondary level;
• Under the Foundation, created 14 new university-based chapters, with a goal of reaching 50 chapters in 2020, and eventually reaching thousands of future electronics specialists;
• Created a new scholarship program for students and educators who are interested in electronics subjects;
• Introduced Project Owl, a hands-on learning activity for middle and high-school students, who will receive basic training and an IPC certificate that could pave the way to an electronics career. This one project alone could educate and inspire more than 350,000 students across the U.S.;
• Commissioned new research into the needs and gaps in high-school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula, which will inform our future efforts; and
• Launched the IPC Workforce Champions intiative, in which nearly three dozen member companies have pledged to do more.

In short, IPC and our members are making unprecedented investments in education and training programs and expanding them to cover all aspects of skills building from middle school to adulthood. Incidentally, we’re also expanding our workforce education efforts in the European Union.

Would we have done some of this anyway? Yes. We were already planning to educate about 250,000 people over the period 2019 to 2023. But on our new course, we are expanding our total effort to benefit more than 1.1 million people over that period. (See chart.)

The President’s challenge – and the opportunity to win White House-level recognition for our efforts – certainly catalyzed us to do more. It heightened the excitement and ambition in our discussions and plans.

And mind you, we are not doing this for political reasons; we’re doing it to address our industry’s top business challenge.

Ultimately, it’s about building a larger, stronger pipeline for millions of people to enjoy better careers and lives through our industry.

IPC’s Hand Soldering Competition Program: A Brief History

By Philippe Leonard, Director, IPC Europe

The history of the IPC Hand Soldering Competition (HSC) grew from the 2010 Scandinavian Electronics Event which saw the first Swedish Championship in hand soldering organized by Lars Wallin IPC Europe, Lars-Gunnar Klag and Krister Park.The first IPC organized competition was held at IPC APEX EXPO 2012 and was created to celebrate the outstanding skills and professional achievements of talented manufacturing floor workers. With interest in HSC competitions in Europe and China growing, IPC launched the World HSC Championship to further prove the value of these professionals within the electronics industry.

With regional competitions in the Americas, Europe and Asia, IPC Hand Soldering Competition participants compete to build a functional electronics assembly within a 60-minute time limit. Assemblies are judged on their soldering quality in accordance with the current IPC-A-610 Class 3 criteria, the speed at which the assembly was produced and the overall electrical functionality of the assembly. IPCA-610 Master Instructors serve as independent judges for the competitions.

Competitions are held in two categories: professionals and beginners. The beginners category was added in 2016, to encourage the younger generation to the value of improving their highly specialized and rare hand soldering skills, which are needed in the electronics industry.

The winners of regional competitions receive cash prizes and the opportunity to compete in the World Hand Soldering Championship, held each year in various cities worldwide in conjunction with highly prestigious electronics trade shows.

“The IPC Hand Soldering Competition highlights the skills of the best hand soldering talent in the world,” said Dave Bergman, vice president, IPC standards and training. “The competition provides members of the electronics industry a chance to demonstrate their know-how to their customers as well as to champion and reward their skilled workers internally. Hand soldering competitions foster a successful work dynamic, fully compliant with stringent IPC requirements, on their manufacturing floor,”

The first World Hand Soldering Championship was held on February 21, 2013, in San Diego, at IPC APEX EXPO 2013 with competitors representing 9 nations who competed in a very strong competition. With a cheering crowd and enthusiastic participants, this first World Championship set the scene to what has become a true electronics industry tradition that is supported by the leading suppliers of hand soldering products worldwide.

The hand soldering competition started out as a showcase event in Sweden to highlight the importance of hand soldering skilled professionals. It has continuously grown to now include six regional competitions in Europe, regional competitions in India and several regional competitions in Asia Pacific.

This past year at IPC APEX EXPO 2019 saw the world championship grow to 12 competitors coming from Britain, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. Watch for an IPC Hand Soldering competitions near you to celebrate these highly skilled professionals.

For more information, view IPC’s Hand Soldering Competition web page.

IPC CFX/Hermes Standards – The Future of Electronics is Here

John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, describes how IPC Standards IPC-2591 and IPC-HERMES-9852 are providing the electronics industry the building blocks for machine-to-machine and machine-to-ERP communications.

Crowded Congressional Calendar Affects Industry Priorities

By Chris Mitchell, vice president, global government relations

More than five months remain in 2019, but U.S. congressional leaders are already running out of time as they face a long list of must-pass bills before year’s end. Although some of these bills do not affect the electronics industry, some of them do, and the overall agenda does affect the opportunities and risks we face.

Twelve annual appropriations bills, providing funding for various government agencies and programs, top the list of must-pass legislation. But first, Congress needs to approve new budget caps. Without such a deal, automatic budget cuts known as sequestration could take effect on October 1. The White House and congressional leaders have reportedly agreed on a two-year budget deal and hope to have it approved before the August recess.

The package to raise the budget caps is related to an effort to increase the nation’s debt limit. The U.S. Treasury is currently taking extraordinary measures to finance U.S. government operations and cover debt obligations, although most experts believe the Treasury can manage the situation through the end of this fiscal year, September 30.

Once the budget caps are established, congressional appropriators can get back to finalizing their spending bills. IPC is pushing for passage of regular, full-year spending bills for 2020, both for the certainty they provide and because we want Congress to carve out funding for lead-free electronics R&D.

On another front, the Trump administration is pressing Congress to act on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Like many other industry associations, IPC is urging Congress to approve the USMCA because it would help our industry grow by expanding market opportunities and supply chain integration.

The U.S. Trade Representative is working with Congress to address various concerns, and I believe the agreement may come to a vote in November or December. However, House Speaker Pelosi is unlikely to give President Trump a win on USMCA without concessions on a budget deal and/or other issues.

Here’s a rundown of congressional priorities that could see action this fall:

National Defense Authorization Act: Expect passage this fall, including several provisions of interest to the electronics industry.

Taxes: A hodgepodge of leadership-supported, tax-related bills are floating around, which could come together and create momentum to get a bill done.

Healthcare/Drug Prices: Congressional leaders are negotiating a bill to address surprise medical bills, pay-for-delay, Medicare negotiations, rebates, and more. Piecemeal reforms have bipartisan support, but any such bill could easily be derailed by partisan divisions.

Immigration: We could see enactment of legislation to adjust or eliminate the per-country caps on “green cards.” The House has already passed such a bill, and a bipartisan companion bill has been introduced in the Senate. But we should not expect to see anything more ambitious on immigration given the chasm between the White House and congressional Democrats.

Infrastructure: There is plenty of bipartisan support for the idea of an infrastructure bill, but differences on financing are likely to derail this effort as they have in the past.

Higher Ed Reauthorization: This effort is moving slowly, but bipartisan negotiations are taking place, and this is the kind of bill that Congress could take up next year despite election-year tensions.

Congress also needs to deal with several “must-pass” items just to maintain the status quo, including:

September 30, 2019 Deadline:
o Flood insurance
o Ex-Im Bank
o Highway rescission
o Secure Rural Schools program
o Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
o Delaying cuts in the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program
o Community health center funding, and other public health programs

December 31, 2019 Deadline:
o Health insurance tax
o Medical device tax
o Alcohol Beverage Tax
o Paid family and medical leave tax credit
o New Markets and Work Opportunity tax credits
o Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Authorization expires

As always, your IPC Government Relations team will continue to monitor all policy developments that affect the electronics industry and will keep you informed. Please let us know if you have any comments or questions.

A Conversation with Karen McConnell — An Emerging Engineer Program Mentor

by Linda Stepanich, multimedia writer, IPC

IPC’s Emerging Engineer program, launched in 2016, provides early career professionals an opportunity to learn from dedicated industry volunteers who participate in IPC standards development. IPC’s editorial staff had the opportunity to talk with one of those dedicated volunteers, mentor Karen McConnell, Senior Staff Engineer CAD CAM, Northrop Grumman, about why she participates as a mentor in IPC’s Emerging Engineer program.

EB: Do you think it’s important for companies to mentor new engineers? Why?

KM: When you’re a new college graduate, you have an ideal version of what design really is. You typically do not have manufacturing experience – how we build, what is needed to build it, how to navigate the requirements of manufacturing – including government requirements, EPA, foreign trade requirements – all the things that can get a less experienced engineer in trouble. These concerns can be minimized when you have a mentor. When you have a problem and need a reference, you can go to your mentor for resources and connections within your corporation. The same goes with IPC standards, information about committees – who is the right person to talk to? Without a mentor, it can take at least 5 years to figure out just how IPC works and have the connections to resolve your issue.

EB: Why did you become a mentor?

KM: Very easy – when I started my career, I was looking at IPC specs and told to design boards to them. There was nobody to talk to about what the specs meant, or what IPC was. Fast forward to my job at Lockheed Martin, where I got involved in the IPC Task Group where IPC standards were explained to me.

This task group provided guidance with navigating the IPC committee and standards. This Lockheed Martin corporate wide group shared what was going on at IPC meetings, which standard were being discussed, and made sure that all the pertinent groups were covered. As a part of this group, I covered standard meetings on topics that I was a novice. I was fortunate to be mentored by Don Dupriest and Linda Woody on what to look for during committee discussions. To really understand the committee meetings, you need someone to instruct you, to introduce you to people, and to show you how things work. I wanted to do that for someone else.

So, when the opportunity for mentorship through the IPC Emerging Engineer program became available, I was able to mentor Kevin Kusiak at Lockheed Martin, even though I’m a Northrop Grumman employee. I was able to do this because of my long involvement with IPC and history with the Defense & Aerospace industry.

I was excited about the IPC Emerging Engineer program because I like to discover new things and meet new people. When attending the networking lunches. I don’t sit with my group of friends. I learn more through osmosis at lunchtime, just listening to the conversations around me. The first year I was a mentor, I would grab Kevin to sit with me at IPC lunches, and he got involved in the discussions and met new people, which helped him tremendously in enabling new leadership roles.

EB: How was the mentoring experience? (pros and cons) What would you change about the program?

KM: Pros – I was able to create a leadership role for Kevin with the IPC-2581 User Group. The first meeting I served as Kevin’s co-chair with Gary Carter so he could have a path into leadership. My mentee assumed the leadership role of the committee his second year.

Cons – The busyness of our jobs (two different companies) didn’t allow for us to coordinate our time together. But Lockheed had two emerging engineers – Kevin and Jimmy Baccam – and they helped each other. They understood one other and they connected at IPC. I could see it happening. Unfortunately, my committee meetings were almost always scheduled when mentors and mentees were supposed to be on the show floor.

EB: Where do IPC standards fit into the mentoring process?

KM: IPC standards are the body of knowledge for printed boards. It is where you can find the information – “how do I do this? What are the rules?” All of that is contained in the IPC standards. Do I read them cover to cover? No. I understand how they link together and how they provide information on best practices. I know how to migrate through the standards to find a solution to a problem or an answer to a question. Standards provide the path to success. I am a data driven individual and standards provide me with the data and guidance I need. When you are involved in IPC committees, you get hands-on experience in understanding and changing standards, and an emerging engineer can become an innovator earlier in their career.

EB: Can you provide some insight into what is was like to be a woman in a male-dominated field?

KM: Looking back at my history, too many women were told “you can’t do that” too early. Too often women are still told “no” today. When I graduated high school, I wanted to study Electrical Engineering at Villanova. I was told that companies do not hire women engineers. So I decided to study Math, and I was told, “Schools don’t want women math teachers.” So I didn’t go to college after high school. I married and was raising my son when I enrolled in the local community college to study engineering. Nineteen years after graduating high school, I graduated from Villanova with an BSEE.

As an Electrical Engineer, I would go to conferences with attendance dominated by men. At IPC, I was able to meet women that helped me by sharing their stories and experiences – fantastic, unsung women who have paved the path. I was fortunate in my career to work for 3 companies that valued women employees. My advice to a new engineer is to find a place that encourages women – Northrop Grumman certainly does. Get to know engineers from other companies.

IPC encourages women, recognizing that women work as well, if not better, then men. I had a great mentor in Linda Woody, who told me not to worry about training an engineer who might replace me but to embrace the person who wants my job, since helping them do well will help my company in the long run and will ensure my retirement. She told me to train the young engineers to take your job. This allows you to branch out to other adventures in technology. This way we all help each other. I am so encouraged by all the young ladies participating in STEM programs.

IPC’s Women in Electronics event is a great opportunity for networking with other women. I still remember my first event. It was a breakfast and the topic was how far women have come from 1943. See 1943 Guide to Hiring Women. This annual event at IPC APEX EXPO has been moved to the evening. The number of women attending IPC meetings has increased exponentially since I first attended, and I want to encourage all women to join us at the conference and committee meetings.

EB: What advice do you have for engineers starting their careers?

KM: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. IPC Members love to share their experiences. Attend a standard meeting on a topic that you have little knowledge about. It might open the door to a future opportunity or spark an interest for a new career path. Don’t be afraid to try something different – you might like it.

For more information on how to become and IPC Emerging Engineer or Mentor, visit www.ipc.org/emerging-engineer.

 

EPA, Industry Come Together in Visit to TTM Facility

By Kelly Scanlon, director, EHS policy and research

IPC member TTM Technologies is proud to show off the new wastewater-treatment system at its Sterling, Virginia plant, which is helping to enhance the company’s pollution prevention and resource recovery performance.

Last week, a group of staff members from the U.S. EPA’s Smart Sectors Program and Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention toured the Sterling site to see the new system and learn about printed circuit board fabrication. The visit, arranged by IPC, was designed to build relationships, improve mutual understanding, and reinforce our industry’s role as a trusted source of expertise on environmental leadership.

The Smart Sectors Program, located within EPA’s Office of Policy, serves as an ombudsman across program offices within the EPA. They provide a platform to collaborate with industry and develop sensible approaches to environmental regulation. The Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention implements the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and works to reduce waste and promote cleaner, safer workplaces, homes, and schools.

From IPC’s perspective, the visit was valuable because the electronics industry is involved in the Smart Sectors Program and is regulated under TSCA. The gathering even helped break down silos between the offices at EPA, which do not meet on a regular basis.

During a briefing and a walk around the facility, the attendees learned about TTM’s ongoing practices to minimize water use, minimize generation of hazardous wastes, and increase recycling. They also saw the wastewater-treatment ion-exchange (WWT-IX) system, which went online earlier this year, resulting in even cleaner wastewater and greater reclamation of valuable metals.

IPC has long advocated for streamlining data reporting requirements for PCB fabricators whose byproducts are recycled offsite, as is the case with TTM. IPC praised a recent EPA proposal to reduce such burdens but called for further refinements to achieve greater efficiencies.

Charles Nehrig, Director of Environmental, Health and Safety for TTM’s Aerospace & Defense Specialty Business Unit, said TTM sees its responsibility to provide accurate data to regulators as critical to its company-wide lean management system. As the visitors saw displayed in huge letters on the EHS wall of the facility’s “war room,” TTM prioritizes EHS activities and results and recognizes employees for their efforts to reduce EHS risks.

Nena Shaw, EPA Smart Sectors Program Director, said the site visit was “super helpful” in gaining “an on-the-ground understanding of the printed circuit board manufacturing processes as well as an improved understanding of specific issues such as metals byproducts reporting.”

Thanks again to our friends at TTM for hosting and at EPA for coming!

Does your company have a great story to tell? Let us know. IPC sponsors site visits for policymakers to build greater understanding of our industry and its challenges and opportunities.

Help Us Help You: Does Your Company Use Any of These Chemicals?

By Kelly Scanlon, IPC Director, EHS Policy and Research

IPC is seeking insights from its members regarding the use of several specific chemicals in their operations. From now through the end of December, the U.S. EPA will release draft risk evaluations for 10 chemicals. IPC will have opportunities to engage with policy makers during this period and submit comments for the public record.

The chemicals are:
• Asbestos, Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CASRN): 1332-21-4
• 1-Bromopropane, CASRN: 106-94-5;
• Carbon Tetrachloride, CASRN: 56-23-5;
• 1,4-Dioxane, CASRN: 123-91-1;
• Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD), CASRNs: 25637-99-4; 3194-55-6; and 3194-57-8;
• Methylene Chloride, CASRN: 75-09-2
• N-Methylpyrrolidone, CASRN: 872-50-4
• Perchloroethylene, CASRN: 127-18-4
• Pigment Violet 29, CASRN: 81-33-4
• Trichloroethylene, CASRN: 79-01-6

The EPA will use the information received from the public – including IPC and its member companies – to inform the final risk evaluations for these chemicals as required under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Section 6(b). The purpose of a risk evaluation is to determine whether a chemical presents an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment under normal conditions of use. To that end, each risk evaluation includes hazard and exposure assessments, risk characterization, and a risk determination.

Please help IPC’s government relations team help you by letting me know how you use these chemicals in your electronics processing activities. Thank you!

Economic and Market Conditions Drive Industry Optimism While Labor Force Issues Lead Negative Drivers

By Sharon Starr, director, market research

IPC’s second-quarter 2019 Pulse of the Electronics Industry survey results indicated a bump in the positive impact of economic and market conditions. Sixty-one percent of the respondents’ open-ended comments about what is driving industry growth cited economic, market or demand growth. Some of these comments mentioned the impact of tariffs and reshoring. On balance, however, trade and tariff issues were far more often cited as conditions that are increasing costs and limiting growth. Among negative impacts on the industry, trade and tariff issues are second only to labor force issues.

The third-quarter survey is now online and open until July 19.