Dear Members and Colleagues:
Earlier this month, NextFlex held its first Winter FHE Symposium at the NextFlex Technology Hub in San Jose. The event was a hybrid one with attendees both remote and in person. Overall, 167 members, government and invited guests participated in the Symposium which included PC 7.0 Teaming and Proposer activities, a workshop, and a members-only Technical Council and Member Meeting. The themes enabled frank discussion about next steps and barriers to full adoption of FHE as well as the path to commercialization. Members and guests were especially happy to once again be at the NextFlex Hub, and the amount of interaction between members, government partners and the NextFlex team was outstanding.
I opened the Symposium with a welcome to all our esteemed guests. This was followed by a presentation from Meredith Lozar, Executive Director of Hiring Our Heroes, a program from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation that connects the military community – service members, military spouses, and veterans – with American businesses to create economic opportunity and a strong and diversified workforce. Before the end of the week, three NextFlex member companies had already initiated contact with Ms. Lozar to learn more about participating in the program.
The workshop – with a theme of “Challenges in Technology Transition from Lab to Product” – was introduced by Dr. Scott Miller, NextFlex Director of Technology, who spoke about the growing emphasis by NextFlex and the community on transitioning FHE technology into commercial and defense products. The keynote, “The Challenging Road to Commercialization,” was delivered by Jay Bosserman, Operations Manager for Molex Printed Circuit Solutions. Workshop presenters offered perspectives on some of the unique challenges with developing and launching products in the emerging FHE space. They also discussed how Flexible Hybrid Electronics are currently being employed in packaging, the roadmaps for packaging and Heterogeneous Integration, and the opportunities to apply FHE manufacturing to support U.S. packaging capabilities.
The third day of the Symposium was a Technical Council Meeting for members and government partners, chaired by Drs. Scott Miller and Nick Morris from NextFlex. The meeting opened with a presentation from Dr. Dev Shenoy, Principal Director for Microelectronics at the DoD. Dr. Shenoy (at left) gave the DoD Microelectronics Overview and addressed ways that hybrid electronics connect directly with priorities for DoD.
The day featured talks on “FHE Manufacturing Infrastructure Challenges and Gaps,” “Maintaining Sustainability and Addressing Environmental Concerns,” addressing life-cycle impacts such as climate change, a panel about TRL and MRL assessments with the goal of sharing best practices and tools to help members improve the quality and accuracy of their TRL and MRL numbers, and a report out on NextFlex’s new Automotive Technical Working Group and its recently completed roadmap presented by Dr. Pradeep Lall from Auburn University. The day concluded with a briefing on the final 2021 NextFlex TWG Roadmaps by Dr. Nick Morris followed by Technical Working group breakout meetings.
One of the highlights of the three-day event was the recognition of five new NextFlex Fellows.
Each year, NextFlex presents Fellow Awards to individuals who have gone above and beyond to positively impact the FHE manufacturing community. This year marks the seventh time that the membership has gathered to celebrate incoming NextFlex Fellows for their achievements. This year’s awardees were recognized for their invaluable contributions to both the NextFlex membership and the field of flexible hybrid electronics, and their dissemination of innovative thought leadership across the country.
- Massood Atashbar, Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Western Michigan University
- Nick Koop, Director of Flex Technology, TTM Technologies
- Michael McCreary, Chief Innovation Officer, E-Ink Corporation
- Heath McNaughton, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), Alabama Air National Guard
- Jim Zunino, Senior Scientific Technical Manager for Munitions Future Concepts and S&T Army Technical Area Chief (TAC-1) Advanced Materials & Manufacturing, U.S. Army Futures Command, Combat Capabilities Development Command, Armaments Center at Picatinny Arsenal
It was delightful to have members and guests with us for the Symposium. For us, collaboration starts with understanding, and we think that understanding is best achieved face-to-face. We hope to do more in-person collaboration soon! Thanks to all who contributed to a successful round of meetings.
Malcolm J. Thompson, PhD