Interview with Dave Hillman: IPC’s 2018 Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame Award Winner


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The IPC Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame Award is given to individuals in recognition of the highest level of achievement, extraordinary contributions and distinguished service to IPC and in the advancement of the industry, including the creation of a spirit of mutual esteem, respect and recognition among members consistent with the goals and mission of the IPC on a long term basis. This is the highest level of recognition that IPC can give to an individual and is based on exceptional merit over a long-term basis, the operative imperative being long-term.

A self-described "dinosaur" of the industry, Dave Hillman has been a steady force in all things solder-related at Rockwell Collins for 30 years. And just to keep things fresh, he has spent years mentoring both college-age and younger children. In this interview, I-Connect007’s Patty Goldman gives Hillman a chance to tell his story.

Patty Goldman: Dave, congratulations on receiving the Hall of Fame Award this year at IPC. It’s quite an honor. Tell me a bit about your background and how you got involved with IPC.

Dave Hillman: It was a good 30 years ago. I am a metallurgical engineer, or in today’s language, I’d be a materials and process engineer. I graduated from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa in 1984, when mammoths roamed the earth. Initially got a job with General Dynamics’ Convair Division, in San Diego. That was materials testing, a lot of structural materials, absolutely nothing to do with solder, or electronics, even though they had an electronics division. I grew up in Iowa, so I’m an Iowa boy. When Rockwell Collins had a job opportunity, a friend called and said, “Looking to come back home? There’s something you might be interested in.” I got on the phone, and turns out I was the third one they interviewed, as the first two guys turned down the job. Good for me that no one wanted this position. I always laugh at the irony of that; I could have been doing something completely different.

As I often say, I’m the last of the dinosaurs. I’ve been in the same group, the same position (Rockwell Collins Fellow, Materials & Process engineer) my entire career at Rockwell Collins, and today, especially with the millennials, that is just not how our industry operates, or how jobs operate. I’m our designated subject matter expert on solder. Anything that’s solder related, I act as an enterprise resource for tackling solder and material problems.

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Goldman: When did you first get involved with IPC and IPC committees?

Hillman: 1988, and I wasn’t even given a choice. Two names out of the past, you’ll remember, John Hagge and John Mather, who were very involved with the printed circuit board side of IPC. They worked with Don Dinella and the other circuit board guys looking at plated through-holes, looking at soldering stress. Mather and Hagge were two of my mentors, and they had highly recommended IPC as a way to understand the industry and what was going on, to create a network of people that I could call and get help with problems. They said I needed to be involved with IPC, so I basically went to management and said, “My mentors say I should be going to the IPC conferences, so I should be going.” They said, “Okay.”

In my 30 years with Rockwell Collins, not once have I ever had to justify my participation We’ve been very privileged that our management understands the value and benefit, which comes from being part of IPC, being on the committees, making presentations, so that’s been very good. I know other companies, other people are not so fortunate, but we’ve had great participation support here at Rockwell Collins.

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