June Issue of SMT007: A Snapshot of a Resilient Industry

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At the beginning of this year, I never would have imagined that I would have to take half of my lab equipment home to be able to continue doing my job. My roommate called me a “ghostbuster” when she saw me walk into our apartment with an oscilloscope and a variable power supply. With the coronavirus pandemic, the entire world’s population has been forced to completely change the way they go about their lives. Going to work every day, having dinner at a restaurant, and even going to the grocery store became dangerous as everyone was forced to shelter in place and work from home in order not to get sick. How do we move on from here?

It was a little difficult adjusting to the “new normal.” But as I learned in the June 2020 issue of SMT007 Magazine, everyone in our industry has had to embrace new concepts, such as working remotely and keeping teams productive and on schedule via video conferencing.

I found myself purchasing face masks online, and as Managing Editor Nolan Johnson mentioned in his June column, each of them has a unique design! I was doing my job from my apartment, along with my two roommates, who are in entirely different industries and handling their jobs in completely different ways. Thankfully, technology has advanced enough so that we can all continue working from our homes somewhat seamlessly. By using our companies’ VPNs, we can do most of our daily tasks remotely, as well as participate in all our daily meetings by using video conferencing.

However, I had not really considered the cybersecurity issues that some companies might be facing during a time like this. Mike Landeck, an information risk strategist, said in his interview that if you work in healthcare or have sensitive intellectual property, it is probably a good idea to invest in protecting your company’s private information. Every company has a certain amount of sensitive data regarding its employees, clients, designs, etc. A lot of companies are still experiencing cyberattacks daily, and it is important to have a system in place that can flag bad emails and strange activity to help protect employees and important company information. Thankfully, no matter what level of cybersecurity is required, there are resources and consultants that can help each company understand their needs and tailor a system around that to provide the best possible protection.

I enjoyed reading the interviews with IPC President John Mitchell and KYZEN Executive VP Tom Forsythe regarding their views and practices on leadership during these unprecedented times. Managers are going through especially difficult times now: They must guarantee the safety of their employees in the workplace, as well as deliverables to their customers, investors, and the company owners. Everyone is navigating this pandemic for the first time, and leaders need to make tough decisions every day that keep employees safe; however, they must also think of ways to keep the work going.

As a hardware engineer, I have tried to continue doing my job from home as if nothing has changed. Anyone whose job is mostly hands-on is going through the same challenges of remote work. Facing obstacles and issues is all part of the design process, and it does not matter if you are at the office or in your home, debugging a circuit. In the end, it all makes us better engineers. As long as we all have guidance and support from our leaders, we’ll be able to continue doing our work as a team and tackle the challenges we face in our jobs every day.

I am very excited to see how the industry will continue to handle the challenges that COVID-19 has brought. Najat Badriyeh, CEO and president of the CEM Naprotek, expressed some concerns regarding having the ability to source materials and building products to support his customers. This is something all contract manufacturers are currently dealing with, and it can be stressful, especially if your customers are in the essential military or healthcare segments and cannot afford to have delays in product delivery.

As the June issue of SMT007 Magazine explained, everyone in the industry is taking the necessary safety precautions to stay open and support their customers to the best of their ability, and we all need to adjust our expectations due to the current situation in the world. If we are able to keep going, though, with slight adjustments to lead times and deliverables, I cannot wait to see how the industry will take off once everything goes back to normal.

Tamara Jovanovic is an electrical engineer at Happiest Baby, a Los Angeles-based company that designs and manufactures smart baby beds.


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