A New Year Begins


Each New Year brings with it a hope for continued growth and prosperity. This year is no exception. Let's face it; the last two years in electronics assembly have been grim. However, most signs point upward for 2004.

For instance, this year during the Boston IMAPS meeting, one of Advanced Packaging's advisory board members, professor Rao Tummala, held a half-day course titled "Microsystems Packaging: Technologies, Markets and Careers" for students considering careers in the field, and they showed up in numbers. More than 80 percent of all millionaires in the U.S. during the last five years attribute their wealth to microsystems packaging technology, stated Tummala. And the students responded enthusiastically.

Market forecasters are reporting more positive figures than in the recent past. At Gartner Dataquest's SEMICON/WEST 2003 Briefing, the title "The Back-end Leads the Recovery," said it directly. The economy is expected to improve, and electronic equipment is part of this recovery. Semiconductors will show an 8 percent growth this year, according to many predictions. Furthermore, future challenges bring really interesting advances. Check out Notable Developments in this issue to see how electronics will expand into biomedical applications.

What used to be pie-in-the-sky is finding solid practical solutions in many areas. System-in-package is an area of high growth. As 300-mm wafer production grows and packaging integrates, the costs of making a package have shrunk. There are still problems, of course: with high-frequency and high-power densities on small die, how can heat dissipation take place? And there are some solutions, such as the many papers presented at IMAPS on packaging solutions for RF-MEMS suitable for mass production.

Attendance at trade shows and conferences was up in 2003. For instance, no one could use the aisles for bowling at IMAPS, SEMICON West or Productronica in 2003.

New products abound in every arena: consumer, medical, military, business equipment and telecom. And with sales of more products, business are beginning to respond with higher wages and head hunters are once again calling on experts in the field. Slowly people in electronics packaging begin to trust the recovery.

Of course there are still wild cards out there — terrorist threats, disease such as SARS, Middle East turmoil, the dollar depreciation against the Euro and other influences that may not be identified as yet. And you can grumble if you want about the recent past, or you can look for opportunities in 2004. The choice is yours. Each New Year brings with it the opportunity for renewal.

Gail Flower