Rockwell Collins’ Doug Pauls Discusses Volunteering, Mentoring and Their Road Show


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I was happy to see Rockwell Collins’ Doug Pauls receive IPC’s Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame award at IPC APEX EXPO, well-deserved for him, and I wanted to chat with him about it. As with so many conversations at the conference this year, the talk quickly turned to inspiring interested young people in our “graying” industry. We also discussed the nature of volunteering and what we get out of it.

Patty Goldman: Doug, congratulations on receiving IPC’s highest award for volunteers. We are here at the first evening of the IPC show. I’m sure it was quite a day for you. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background.

Doug Pauls: I’ve been a materials scientist and engineer for about 32 years. I have a background in chemistry, physics, and electrical engineering, but over the course of my career I’ve morphed into a materials scientist, a materials engineer. All that time has been spent in the electronics manufacturing industry.

The first nine years I was working for the Department of the Navy as a federal civil servant doing high-volume, low-mix manufacturing, spending time in their materials laboratory. After that, I spent eight years as technical director of Contamination Studies Laboratories in Kokomo, Indiana, doing process troubleshooting using chemical analysis, looking at what type of residues were on the circuit boards and what impacts they have. After that, I became a principal materials and process engineer at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where they make high-performance aviation electronics. So, that’s kind of the professional background.

Goldman: So you’ve been at Rockwell Collins now 16 years. What has your involvement with IPC consisted of, other than obviously quite a bit?

Pauls: Yes. Rockwell Collins has been a very good manufacturer and a very good employer for me, and they’re a long-time IPC member, so they support everything that we’ve done. In fact, all of the employers I’ve been with have actively supported IPC. My association with IPC began in the fall of 1985. I came to my first meeting with Susan Mansilla, formerly of Robisan Labs and now retired, and Susan was also very active in IPC committees. If you know Susan, she’s a ball of fire, and she is a force of nature when she gets going. She took me around, and said, “All right, for the stuff that you’re doing in the materials lab, you need to be on the Solder Mask Committee, and you need to be on this one.” And they introduced me to all the leaders of that and said, “Sign up for this.”

Goldman: Got you going, didn’t she?

Pauls: Oh yeah, and in those days the IPC meetings were Monday through Friday, as you recall. I learned about standard specifications, how the industry worked, and how everything was interconnected. It was a tremendous education.

Goldman: Tremendous learning experience and education.

Pauls: Yes, and then I found, in listening to the  discussions about what the specification levels should be for a material or a process, I started to get an appreciation of the finer points behind what goes into a value that we all have to meet. As a young engineer, just out of school— of course nobody teaches you this stuff in college—it was a tremendous learning experience. I found that as I continued involvement with IPC over the years, I continued to learn more and more, because IPC and the people who come here are very good about sharing their knowledge and sharing their experiences, and it’s a wonderful organization. 

Goldman: Yes, I’ve found that it’s not only at the meetings that they’ll share, but once you’ve met that person, and you have a connection, anytime you have a question or a problem or an issue, you can call that person and get help right over the phone or email these days. It’s a very useful network.

Pauls: Oh, very useful and effective, and in fact, I think some of the more enjoyable parts are when you get to know all those people, and perhaps you go out for drinks afterwards, you get to hear a lot of the very interesting war stories. Some good lessons there.

Goldman: Besides a lot of laughs, you learn some good lessons. One of my theories is that people volunteer at IPC when they’re with a particular company, but regardless of what company they’re with, they’re still a volunteer. You’re sort of living proof of that, as am I, but I’m just curious about your thoughts on that.

Pauls: Well, I’ve been a part of a number of volunteer organizations. In addition to IPC, I’m a Boy Scout scoutmaster. You know, that’s an all-volunteer thing. I teach confirmation at our local church, again, all-volunteer type of thing. I think people have a tendency to volunteer for things that are their passion, where they see, “I have a skillset that I can bring to this, I’m good at this, I enjoy what I’m doing.” Almost any organization is going to be furthered by the efforts of dedicated volunteers who share their passion, and that’s something I’ve tried to do here. I think back on all of the people who shared their knowledge and shared their information, their wisdom, with me in the early years. All of them had the “pay it forward” type of attitude for this, and so as I’ve learned a lot as a volunteer for the IPC, I’ve always tried then to give back—people were generous with me, so I should be generous as well.

 

To read the full version of this interview which appeared in the May 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.

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