Interview with Dave Hillman: IPC’s 2018 Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame Award Winner
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.
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.
Goldman: What committees and subcommittees are you involved with? Everything having to do with solder?
Hillman: I’m on probably more than I should be. One primary focus is being the committee chair for the IPC J-standard 002 component solderability, and I have been that for a long time. I was also the committee chair for the IPC J-standard 003 board solderability, but I just wasn’t doing justice to that committee in being proactive. Luckily, we found a couple other great individuals to take over for that committee. I’m also a member of the J-standard 001, J-standard 006, with a lot of solder activities, things covering assembly. The IPC-7093 bottom terminated component committee, the IPC-7095A BGA committee, things that’ll revolve around solder, such as workmanship or underfill. I’m on the underfill committee, though not as active as I’d like. Yeah, I think the more committees you’re on, the more you learn, the more you have a chance to participate, and add, and help those committees out.
I would rather be a member on the committee than run the committee, because I think that’s where the committees need the greatest help, and that’s where you get some things done. That’s where the committees are looking for those people to help them, and go find answers, and bring more drafts and pictures.
I’ve been helping develop documents as best I can. Maybe the one thing I probably can claim some credit for is with the IPC J-standard 002. That truly is a joint standard committee effort. We have the IPC organization, and we have the JEDEC organization, which is the active component group in the industry. We have the ECIA organization which is the passive component group, components such as surface mount resistors and capacitors. Those three groups came together to create a one specification that the whole industry uses. We have a very good relationship with the IEC solderability specifications and Graham Naisbitt who is heavily involved in the IEC solderability committees.
So really, the goal would be that one day we have a set of documents everyone follows. And I feel that the J-standard 002 committee and the adjoining organizations, we’ve really made that our goal. To try to work through the technical differences and find a way that we have one set of documents, where I’m not trying to meet two or three documents. If we can continue to work towards that goal, I think we’ve done a good job of attempting to meet the industry’s needs.
The other accomplishment would be the use of data for specification requirements. In the committees, or even just company meetings, there’s a lot of emotion about this or that and what it comes down to is this: Data should win. Just because I believe something should be the best industry practice, if I don’t have data to back that up, we shouldn’t be making a requirement. And Jim Reed, who was our Assembly and Joining chair for many years, suggested we push harder for data-based requirements. I think that at least within the J-standard 002 realm, I’ve done a good job on that. As a committee, that’s what we do. We try to base everything on fact-based decisions.
To read the full interview, which appeared in I-Connect007’s Show & Tell Magazine, click here.