The Digital Layout: It’s Official—1,000+ PCEA Members Worldwide

This month, I review the virtual PCEA grand opening, which took place on July 14 and featured guest presenter and PCEA educational committee member Rick Hartley. I also check in with the PCEA Education Committee and take a look at the organization’s role in education. What do our education committee leaders have in store? I will highlight some of their ideas and plans for learning and curricula in the coming months. Finally, PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez shares his satisfaction with our recent open house. 

PCEA Updates 
The PCEA virtual open house and webinar was held July 14. PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez had some grateful words to say about our sponsors and the publishers 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 that the association serves over 1,000 members worldwide. There are now eight regional chapters in the U.S. and Mexico, and the PCEA is cultivating five new additional chapters, which will be coming online 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.”

The PCEA’s objectives include:

  • Stimulating communication among and between printed circuit designers and  
others in related engineering disciplines.
  • Disseminating information regarding  
current activities and new developments in design technology via newsletters.
  • Maintaining a communications link between standards bodies related to printed circuit engineering and manufacturing. Coordination includes, but is not limited to, the activities of government, industry, trade associations, and special interest groups. 
  • Coordinating the compilation of design standardization issues in printed circuit fabrication and assembly with related design technologies.
  • Encouraging and coordinating the compilation of design information, including equipment, equipment capability (tools and technologies), and related information.
  • Promoting the necessity of early collaboration between engineering, fabrication, assembly, test, and field service.
  • Assisting in the participation of suppliers and OEMs in chapter programs. 

Steph thanked the audience and our sponsors before Rick Hartley was introduced, including instructions for submitting questions and how to participate in online polling throughout the webinar.

Rick Hartley’s Webinar Presentation
I’ve been to many presentations by Rick Hartley. Over the years, I’ve attended multi-hour presentations, half-day presentations, and full-day presentations. Regardless of the length of the presentation or the 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 hosted by the PCEA featured Rick’s topic, “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 that all of our readers had the time to tune in. In case you didn’t, here are a few excerpts from the presentation.
Regarding energy in a PCB, Rick said, “Energy in a circuit is not in the voltage or the current. Energy is in the electric and magnetic fields.” He continued, “Energy does not travel in the copper elements, such as traces and planes. Energy travels in the space between these copper elements.”

Rick went on to discuss 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 the “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 onto a discussion of the importance of closely-spaced power planes and the challenges to performance wrought by two-, four-, six-, and higher layer-count stackups, which fail to provide copper shaped and positioned to address lowering inductance and improving impedance performance.

There was an obvious air of excitement among the viewers as Rick’s presentation progressed. The more he presented, the more our web-host received queries 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 to questions they posed: “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 (PDN)?” Though the presentation was set for an hour, presenter Rick stayed on long after to answer the many questions that were posed.

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

Next Month: Interview With the PCEA Educational Committee
Recently, I had an opportunity to meet with our PCEA Educational Committee regarding their plans for the future. The educational committee consists of PCEA executive staff members Mike Creeden, Tara Dunn, Gary Ferrari, Rick Hartley, Susy Webb, and Steph Chavez. This team has a lot of power-packed ideas and curricula lined up for our members. Our new website is also being sprinkled with many informational links and resources. I look forward to my informative meeting discussion with this dynamic group of printed circuit engineering veterans. Stay tuned!

Message From the Chairman by Stephen Chavez, MIT, CID+
Success! The PCEA has truly hit the ground running. We have now hosted two outstanding global events. 

The first event was a great webinar that PCEA hosted in partnership with SMTA on July 9 titled “Creating the Best Data Package.” I want to personally thank SMTA for acknowledging PCEA and seeing the value that PCEA brings to the industry as a 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 on July 14, which featured a presentation on PDNs by Rick Hartley. We had a great turn out with lots of positive engagement and attendee feedback. Rick’s presentation was just a small golden nugget of what PCEA has to offer to the industry. It was a successful launch with lots of knowledge-hungry attendees seeking advice and industry best practice information. The feedback from our grand opening has been overwhelmingly positive.

That’s two awesome events now under our belt, and there will be many more to follow. Stay tuned for more activities coming your way now that PCEA is official and extremely active. Our official website has been up and running since June 1 with a lot of activity and new members joining the PCEA collective, and we continue to gain industry sponsorship.

Lastly, I’d like to give a very heartfelt and loud shout of “kudos” to the entire PCEA leadership team for successfully launching the PCEA to the world. All the hard work and extra effort have 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 to be healthy and safe.

Upcoming Events

  • September 7–11, 2020: PCB West—Virtual
  • September 28 –October 23, 2020: SMTA International—Virtual
  • October 6–8, 2020: AltiumLive North America—Virtual
  • October 20–22, 2020: AltiumLive Europe—Virtual


  • January 23–28, 2021: IPC APEX EXPO (San Diego, California)
  • January 26–28, 2021: DesignCon (Santa Clara, California)
  • May 5–6, 2021: Del Mar Electronics & Manufacturing Show (San Diego, California)
  • May 11–13, 2021: IPC High-Reliability Forum 2021 (Baltimore, Maryland)
  • November 10, 2021: PCB Carolina (Raleigh, North Carolina)

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.

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! 

This column originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Design007 Magazine.



The Digital Layout: It’s Official—1,000+ PCEA Members Worldwide


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