Advanced Packaging Symposium: Looking in the Rearview Mirror


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Matt Kelly had the vision and Jan Vardaman set the tone for the IPC Advanced Packaging Symposium, Oct. 11-13 in Washington, D.C. So, did they accomplish their goals? What were the real takeaways from the event, and what can we expect to see next? Spoiler alert: Matt and Jan came away impressed in more ways than one.

Nolan Johnson: Matt and Jan, now that the symposium has closed, what are your thoughts? How did it go?

Jan Vardaman: We’ve had a lot of great discussions. Many met for the first time, and when you’re trying to make changes, it’s important to bring people together, talk about the problem and the solutions we can develop. That’s exactly what happened.

Johnson: About a year ago, Jan, we did an interview and I asked what we needed to do to move forward. You said, “We need a summit,” and here we are.

Jan_Vardaman_2022.jpgVardaman: That’s right. It’s been very successful because people were having great discussions outside the planned sessions. We’ve heard those in the hallways here, so putting this together to get something done is very important. That’s what’s been accomplished out of this meeting.

Johnson: Matt, as the architect for this event, what are your thoughts?

Matt Kelly: While this was about awareness and education, one of the biggest takeaways was in the number of people who were talking, exchanging business cards, and having their meetings. Jokingly, I had said that if the groups didn’t like the content of the slides at least they could meet new colleagues and start the work on their own. So, I’m most happy about the level of engagement.

mat_jan_hero.jpgI’m also impressed by the attentiveness of the attendees. We had a completely packed room for two full days and that shows the need and the desire to learn more. They wanted to take this information back with them and begin to make sense of it.

Johnson: Will the presentation materials be distributed to the registered attendees?

Kelly: Yes, it will be part of the compendium which we’ll put together when we get back.

Johnson: This can’t certainly be the end. What’s next?

Vardaman: We certainly need to see what will come out of this, but I believe we plan to have another event at IPC APEX EXPO where we can continue the discussion. We’ll be closer to the time that things start coming out and we’ll see people picking their dance partners, so to speak.

Johnson: One big piece of news was Frank Gayle from NIST announcing that PCB ecosystem projects could be submitted under the CHIPS Act. That was confirmed in other conversations I’ve had with those who were at the Capitol talking to congressional and senate staff. That’s a good sign for ongoing work with government legislation, isn’t it?

Kelly: Yes, it is, and we heard it this afternoon as well. We keep hearing about the lines blurring, but printed circuit board technologies to a level with IC substrates are coming together. There are absolutely differences, but there’s also synergy. The one thing I really like about this—if we can get all the way there—is this reversal of commodity. That word commodity is a bad word. The commoditization of printed circuit work, the commoditization of IC substrates is a bad thing. We need to continue that effort to show how complex they are and how much work is needed.

Johnson: Part of the message was that it’s time to stop talking and start acting. Will there be more symposia in the future?

Kelly: We had multiple requests for similar events in different geographic locations. There’s a request to do one in Europe. There was a request for a more defense-based agenda. Part of what Jan does at TechSearch International, and what IPC is doing, is to keep that community vibrant. You need to know who needs to work together. That will be a continued function. 

But as you know, post-event, we must continue driving more substantive types of execution. That means building these communities, starting to list exactly what is needed, and get beyond talking.

Johnson: Well, congratulations. Job well done.

Kelly: Thank you.

Vardaman: Thank you.

This interview originally appears in the November 2022 issue of SMT007 Magazine.

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