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.

Saying Yes to Opportunities: IPC’s Emerging Engineer Program Offers Career Growth for Electronics Industry Newcomers

What makes the IPC Emerging Engineer Program a premier networking and career enriching program? IPC staff spoke to Emerging Engineer Kate Stees, materials & process engineer, Lockheed Martin, about her experience in the program and why she recommends it to other engineers.

IPC: Why did you choose to enroll in IPC’s Emerging Engineer program?

Stees: I attended an IPC committee meeting for the first time in 2017. As a newcomer, it was challenging to follow what was happening in the meetings, as well as a little intimidating with so many industry experts in the room. Nonetheless, I knew I wanted to get involved in the IPC standards development process, so I volunteered for an action item. Shortly after, I was approached by the IPC liaison from that committee. She told me about the EE program, and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to learn about IPC standards development from experienced IPC members.

IPC: What have you learned about IPC standards and your role in creating/revising/ them?

Stees: I knew that IPC standards are created and updated by committee members, but I didn’t realize how much power each committee member has in the standards development, until I joined the EE program. All you have to do is get involved!

IPC: How has meeting and working with a mentor helped you in your career?

Stees: I was lucky enough to have two very knowledgeable mentors. My first year of the Emerging Engineer program, my assigned mentor was unable to make IPC APEX EXPO. I was concerned, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because another experienced IPC member volunteered to be my substitute mentor. Both mentors are very highly respected individuals both at the company I work for and in the IPC community, and it was an honor to learn from them. They were very proactive in helping me navigate the committee meetings and introducing me to the key individuals. I now have a better understanding of the IPC standards, as well as two great resources at work– one on the printed wiring board side and another on the circuit card assembly side.

IPC: What is the most valuable aspect of the Emerging Engineer program?

Stees: The most valuable aspect of the Emerging Engineer program is that it ‘forces’ you to network with anyone and everyone at the IPC events. For example, for our first year in the program one of the program tasks was to take selfies at different events. This included taking selfies with IPC members, IPC committee liaisons and other IPC employees, show floor vendors, technical presenters, etc. I do not like selfies, especially selfies with people I just met – how awkward is that! However, I am so glad I did it. The selfies forced me to break the ice — I now had an excuse to form valuable connections with others at the IPC events.

IPC: Having learned from the program, what advice would you give to engineers who are just starting their careers?

Stees: This is my third and final year of the Emerging Engineer program. I am currently a vice-chair and an A-Team lead for a large committee. I did not envision this three years ago; I just said yes to the opportunities that made me feel uncomfortable and challenged me. My advice to the engineers that are starting their careers is to take the opportunities that make you step out of your comfort zone because that is the only way one can grow.

IPC: What, if anything, would you change about the program?

Stees: The Emerging Engineer program is catered towards the individuals with less than five years of industry experience. I think it would be great to have a similar program for those individuals that are in the mid-career range but have not had an opportunity to get involved with the IPC until recently.

IPC: What opportunities does IPC’s Emerging Engineer program afford you that you could not have experienced on your own?

Stees: The opportunity to kick-start your participation in IPC standards development. In addition to all the valuable knowledge and connections, the program also provides you with a complimentary All-Access Package registration to IPC APEX EXPO for three years and complimentary IPC SummerCom registration. This gives an engineer early in their career valuable leverage when trying to justify the initial travel to such events.

Now accepting applications for the 2020 Emerging Engineer Program and a limited number of University Student positions are available! If you’re interested in applying for or learning more about the Emerging Engineer program, please email us at careerdevelopment@ipc.org. Deadline for applications is November 15, 2019.