Nolan’s Notes: The Trade Show Is Over—Now What Do You Do?

When you’re new to your career, your role, or even new to the industry, the pressure can be immense. Then you find yourself at a trade show representing your company, tasked with bringing information back to your organization. But take heart, at least you’re not Harrison “Jack” Schmitt. Jack really understood pressure.

astronaut_schmitt.jpgSchmitt is a retired NASA astronaut from the Apollo era but let me take a step back and explain some of the history. The U.S. space program, as you may recall, went to the moon with a science-based agenda; astronauts brought back lunar samples to study. But the earliest astronauts, understandably, weren’t scientists; they were pilots with elite military backgrounds, so their skill sets were skewed toward successfully operating the complex equipment to get there and back safely with a moonrock payload. At first, it seemed, everyone was willing to sacrifice the quality of the samples for the sake of having any samples at all.

By the time NASA got to the Apollo 15 mission, the astronaut crews were becoming more comfortable with the flight systems. They weren’t any simpler, but there was now a sizeable body of knowledge to share regarding how the Apollo spacecraft actually performed. The flying of Apollo seemed to become almost, well, routine.This was fortunate because scientists started exerting greater pressure on the astronauts to bring back something greater than they had. It wasn’t enough to simply come home safe with a bag of gravel; now the science community demanded that the astronauts slake their thirst for knowledge about the moon’s origins. Not just any rock could do that, after all. This is where we circle back to Schmitt.

Jack Schmitt started as a trained geologist who followed test pilots into the astronaut program. He was scheduled to fly the Apollo 18 mission but was moved up to the Apollo 17 crew instead. There were a variety of reasons that shifted Schmitt to the earlier mission. One of them, ostensibly, was as a response to the call for more expertise in science.

In HBO’s 1998 mini-series, “From the Earth to the Moon,” Schmitt plays a prominent role in the episode titled, “Galileo Was Right.” The story follows Schmitt’s role influencing Lee Silver, a Caltech geology professor, to train the astronauts in how to spot scientifically interesting rock samples. Thanks to this training, the Apollo 15 crew was able to identify and return with a rock more than four billion years old. This rock has been dubbed the “Genesis Rock” and has contributed immensely to our understanding of the moon’s geology.

Can you imagine the pressure that was put on Schmitt to train and prepare the astronauts to get the right kind of rocks? This wasn’t just a trip across town. It was a trip to the moon and all that entails. Now that’s pressure to get it right.

Pressure comes in many different forms. Pressure to meet expectations is immense. Your new role may even feel as pressure-filled as attending a trade show for the first time, especially when you have to report back to your team, department, or company.

What are the expectations you’ve been tasked with? How will your company take what you’ve brought back and advance your knowledge and technical knowhow? How can you be like Jack Schmitt, and mentor other teams based on what you learned?

smt-feb-2023-Cover250.jpgWe took that idea to heart while planning the February issue of SMT007 Magazine. We wondered, “I’ve gone to the show (or conference), so now what? Where do I go from here?” In this issue, you’ll find a roadmap of key steps to take after the show. We offer some practical tips to effect real change armed with conference information.

Some highlights: Barry Matties discusses how to make the most of your post-show activities; Dan Beaulieu offers 10 key tips for what to do while you’re at the show to ensure you have what you need. We also look a little deeper into an equipment manufacturer’s perspective in our interview with Koh Young. In another interview with Alpha Circuit, we investigate what goes into building out a greenfield facility. Even if your post-show shopping endeavor is for a single piece of equipment, it’s the greenfield buildouts like Alpha’s and Rocket EMS’s that have figured out what to do. Finally, Kris Moyer provides guidance on how best to share the knowledge you picked up with others.

And, as a supplemental idea, I suggest downloading Happy Holden’s book, 24 Essential Skills for Engineers. Happy shares soft skills to help you be effective in communicating and/or persuading once you’re back in the office.

On our cover, we showcase a mass of LEGO® Bricks because it represents the pieces of separate bits of information gleaned from networking with other industry professionals that we must then assemble into a cohesive strategy afterward. For us engineer types, the compulsion to make order out of those bricks is very real. Turning your conference and trade show knowledge into action in the factory should feel just the same. I’m sure Harrison Schmitt would understand.

This column appeared in the February 2023 issue of SMT007 Magazine.



Nolan’s Notes: The Trade Show Is Over—Now What Do You Do?


When you’re new to your career, your role, or even new to the industry, the pressure can be immense. Then you find yourself at a trade show representing your company, tasked with bringing information back to your organization. But take heart, at least you’re not Harrison “Jack” Schmitt. Jack really understood pressure. Schmitt is a retired NASA astronaut from the Apollo, era but let me take a step back and explain some of the history. The U.S. space program, as you may recall, went to the moon with a science-based agenda; astronauts brought back lunar samples to study.

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Nolan’s Notes: An Evolution


This month, PCB007 Magazine looks at the evolution of advanced packaging from the fabricator’s perspective. This is, as you’re aware, a global topic. Asia harbors nearly all the manufacturing capabilities for the packaging and interposer substrates required for the latest packaging technologies. North America and Europe, buoyed by their respective chip technologies legislation, are working to bring packaging capability back to their home shores. How this plays out remains to be seen.

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Nolan’s Notes: Advanced Packaging


Advanced packaging is not new to our coverage. Over the past two years, we’ve written about the heterogenous integration roadmap, as well as reported on the October 2022 IPC Advanced Packaging Symposium in Washington, D.C. This is a topic wherein printed circuit manufacturing and semiconductor manufacturing begin to converge. For this issue of SMT007 Magazine, we contacted industry experts on packaging technologies to get their perspective on advanced packaging, and followed up with many of the participants in the IPC symposium, seeking a deeper dive into their presentations. We found enthusiastic voices willing to share their concerns, solutions, and R&D work with you.

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Nolan’s Notes: Traditions—The Old and the New


December is a month full of traditions. They may be religious, spiritual, family, or entirely personal. They may be related to the calendar or business cycles, but whatever the reason, December certainly seems to be driven by tradition. While traditions often get a bad reputation as stodgy and tired, they aren’t all bad. For example, we use this last month of the year to prepare you for IPC APEX EXPO. The upcoming conference and trade show is scheduled for Jan. 21–26, 2023, at the San Diego Convention Center. As we prepare this issue for publication, the show floor boasts 366 exhibitors.

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Nolan’s Notes: UHDI—Raising Awareness and Interesting Questions


It was over lunch on the second day of the recent IPC Symposium on Advanced Packaging when I asked a question that triggered an interesting discussion about advanced packaging and ultra high density interconnect. While these two technologies are distinct, they are also symbiotic; it takes both to make either successful. As the symposium delivered on its agenda, the inter-relationship between those two technologies became crystal clear.

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Nolan’s Notes: The Conveyor Belt Effect


How many times have you watched a conveyor belt in a movie played out for comedic effect? It’s a familiar trope: The belt starts out slowly, then increases its speed, until chaos ensues. Think “I Love Lucy,” “Star Wars,” and Charlie Chaplin in “City Lights.” These are perfect metaphors for this issue on workflow management, where planning your workflow on the manufacturing floor in these challenging times sometimes feels like being just one step away from disaster—or safety.

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Nolan’s Notes: Have Passport, Will Travel


Technical conferences, expos, symposia, and trade gatherings of all kinds are back and in a big way. Maybe it’s just because we’ve been quiet for a while, followed by a year of careful, tentative restarts to the event schedules, but this upcoming year’s calendar of events seems to be full steam ahead. I’m excited to get back into the convention centers and hotel ballrooms; that is where some of our best news and reporting originates. That comes at a price, however, as my travel schedule looks pretty brutal between now and Thanksgiving. Just between you and me, while it may feel brutal to my workload, I’m ready to dust off my passport, see some airports, and wear thin some shoe leather.

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Nolan’s Notes: New Era Manufacturing


In a 2010 New York Times article titled “Failing Like a Buggy Whip Maker? Better Check Your Simile,” writer Randall Stross confronts the buggy whip analogy and unintentionally offers some perspective on our industry. PCB fabrication is thriving on a global scale. Innovations are occurring regularly, mostly in Asia. It’s not that the world has moved beyond needing printed circuits; the world is simply evolving its wants and needs from a circuit board fabricator. It makes sense that those who are leaning on the buggy whip analogy may have given up on the industry. Truth be told, however, we’re more like the carriage parts manufacturers than like the buggy whip makers. Here's why.

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Nolan’s Notes: Light at the End of the Tunnel


The development of an issue of SMT007 Magazine can take two to four months of planning, research, content gathering, editing, and production. Under normal conditions (are they ever normal?) the stories we identify at the start of the planning process are still accurate at the time of publication. We move fast in this industry, but sometimes, just like the rest of our industry, things evolve.

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Nolan’s Notes: Supply ‘Pain’ Management


We’re all feeling the discomfort, aren’t we? Things are getting squeezed and stretched. While the correct amount of that “something” is hard to put your finger on, there’s stress in the PCB manufacturing and assembly process. It reminds me of coming home from the hospital with my first born. He was 28 days early, and naturally, his early arrival threw off all our birth preparations. For example, we attended the last session of our Lamaze class with a newborn in a baby carrier. Never have I seen sharper, dagger-eyed stares than from that class full of moms-to-be.

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Nolan’s Notes: The Shifting Supply Chain—An Argument for Investment


The gears of the economy worked like clockwork for quite a long time, at least in North America, Europe, and Asia. Overall, that smooth operation is no longer the case, for several reasons. It’s as if the watchmaker has upended the clockworks onto the worktable and is rearranging the mechanism to work differently—to tell a different time, if you will. In the overall economy, there are bearish signs (9.1% inflation year-over-year in the U.S. in mid-July). But in electronics manufacturing, the market looks quite bullish on the demand side. This month’s cover reflects that dynamic—a bullish industry within what seems to be an emerging bearish economy.

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Nolan's Notes: Data Security—It’s Incumbent Upon You


In May 2022, the news broke in Portland, Oregon that the city government had suffered a “cybersecurity breach” and lost $1.4 million in city funds. As reported by numerous news sources, a city-issued press release stated that “preliminary evidence indicates that an unauthorized, outside entity gained access to a City of Portland email account to conduct illegal activity.” Incidents like these are more common than we realize, and must be addressed in our industry as well.

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Nolan’s Notes: What’s the Point of Collaborating?


When we first started planning this issue, we used the word “partnership” in our working title. Partnership certainly is one way to collaborate. Creating close working relationships with manufacturing specialists who can extend your capabilities for your customers is one obvious way to collaborate. But there are others, for example, collaboration can also look like proactive communication with customers as well as vendors.

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