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60 The PCB Magazine • January 2016 columns, and they are not necessarily listed here in order of importance: 1. tQc/six sigma/statistics/curve Fitting 2. problem solving 3. Design of experiments 4. Fmea 5. information research on the internet 6. technical writing 7. product/process life cycles 8. learning curve/learning theory 9. Figure of merit/shared vision 10. Design for manufacturing/assembly 11. managing management time 12. project/program management 13. Benchmarking 14. engineering economics/roi/Bet 15. roadmapping 16. Quality functional deployment (house of Quality) 17. automation strategy/cim 18. computer aided manufacturing 19. recruiting and interviewing 20. metrics—dimensional analysis 21. 10-step business plan 22. programmed instruction/long distance learning 23. lean manufacturing/Jit/toc 24. technology awareness 25. predictive engineering 1. Total Quality Control/ Six-Sigma Quality/Statistics/Curve Fitting Total quality control and Six Sigma (6σ) re- fer to the philosophy of continuous improve- ment through statistical techniques and a commitment to excellence. The PDCA process (Plan, Do, Check, Act) is a central theme us- ing the Nine Basic Tools (cause-effect, process flow, pareto, scatter, histograms, process capa- bility index, control charts, time-series, and check sheets). The useful Statistical Engineering Handbook is available from NIST as a free down- load. A fundamental place to start is selecting the right statistical tools (measurement system analysis, statistical process control, compara- tive methods, or design of experiment). Curve fitting is a further extension of the Nine Basic Tools because it permits the analysis of data to see if it conforms to any known mathematical model, linear or not. 2. Problem Solving The seven-step problem solving method of TQC is a good place to start. But this has been refined and expanded by organizations such as Kepner Tregoe. KT's "Decision Analysis-Problem Analysis-Potential Problem Analysis" action se- quence methods help engineers enhance their problem-solving skills. 3. Design of Experiments DOE methods are employed by engineers during experimentations. Whether it is prob- lem solving or process development, the DOE experimental methods provide the most effi- cient means of determining the correct answers or optimal conditions. It is an essential part of selecting the right statistical tools. 4. FMEA Failure mode effects analysis (FMEA) is a sim- ple method for finding out the real cost of po- tential failures in any product or system. FMEA can be used during design or later analysis of a product or process to help identify potentially significant failure risks. For example, an engine casing may be found to be at risk of cracking under harsh vibration or an order entry system may lose customer details if the wrong comput- er key is pressed. It is a scalable tool that can be used to examine failures in complete systems, subsystems or on individual components. The level and depth of analysis should depend on what is being examined and on the importance of finding all key risks. 5. Information Research on the Internet There are more specific ways of researching a technical topic on the Internet than just us- ing the Yahoo or Google Search engines. This covers the various locations to conduct specific searches. 6. Technical Writing Technical writing can be a painful process for engineers, but it is essential as a commu- 25 ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR ENGINEERS article

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