I have been going to SMTAI for nearly two decades and still find it to be a very valuable conference. Long ago, I went with the purpose of taking in the educational sessions; I had a lot to learn, and I still do. After a few years, I moved to the front of the room, doling out my experience and hands-on knowledge related to failure analysis as well as lessons learned, hoping that others would become aware of what might be news to them.
All along, I was becoming more involved with the IPC task groups that help shape the documents many companies use for assembling processes—some of the exact processes we were there to learn more about. Working in an FA and process qualification laboratory, specifications are very relevant to our customers, and we need to in the know be as much as we can. When IPC and SMTA came together with a co-located conference, it was a great opportunity for me as more of a one-stop shop. As I became more involved with the IPC task groups, I had less time to take in the educational sessions.
This year, IPC made the decision to no longer co-locate their fall meetings with SMTAI; instead, they held a standalone task group meeting in June. This opened my schedule for the entirety of SMTAI and, most importantly, allowed me time for the sessions. I attended sessions that I hadn’t in years, and I even managed to learn a thing or two. There is never a shortage of great topics and very knowledgeable speakers, and the handful of obvious sales pitches that were cleverly, or not so cleverly, masked as educational opportunities.
I also made my annual sojourn to the convention floor to look at all of the newest assembly equipment bells and whistles, which there are always plenty of, and see some old friends who I only see at these types of gatherings. Before I headed to Rosemont, I was a little skeptical if it would be worth it for me, considering the lack of task groups that had become my SMTAI/IPC APEX EXPO focus. But after three days of sessions (and a somewhat impressive third-place showing at the SMTA trivia night), I was reminded of why I went to SMTAI in the first place: to learn about the newest technology and how to address age-old problems that are ever-evolving in this era of miniaturization.
Eric Camden is a lead investigator at Foresite Inc.