It is good to be back in the PCB world. My return has been a positive experience, as I’ve been welcomed back by many longtime industry friends. Some of those friends questioned why I’d want to return. And after attending PCB West in Santa Clara and visiting with numerous colleagues over the past few months, I’ve noticed that most of us are gray and grizzled. There aren’t many spring chickens in the domestic PCB market. And that’s got me wondering why.

Where are all the PCB young bloods? Why aren’t young men and women entering the industry in the numbers they did in the past? Even the IPC website still has posted an 8-year-old video of me (a less gray version) promoting the benefits of belonging to the organization. I’m flattered. But really? After all this time, IPC couldn’t find anyone else to promote the industry’s largest trade association?

I suspect the shrinking domestic industry and the pessimism of many who’ve stayed in it is at least partly related to the vanishing of our youth membership. It seems that the US has a harder time today than a generation ago instilling in our young people a genuine interest in a manufacturing career. This is just another of the “frightening holes” that needs to be plugged in our leaking domestic industry, as Editor-in-Chief Mike Buetow so aptly discusses in his November Circuits Assembly editorial.

It is sad that we hardly have any energetic young people breathing new life into this industry. We really can’t blame China for that.

I’d love to get some feedback on this issue from the PCB veterans out there. Where have all the young bloods gone? And what can we do to get them back?