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34 I-CONNECT007 I REAL TIME WITH... IPC APEX EXPO 2021 SHOW & TELL MAGAZINE Technical Conference— Balancing Conventional and Disruptive Technologies by Matt Kelly, IPC As I have reminded myself throughout this global pandemic, it's not what happens to you that's most important, rather it's how you react to a situation that matters most. I was reminded of this again when we learned last year that IPC APEX EXPO 2021 would need to be delivered virtually due to ongoing COVID-19 safety requirements. I remember at the time wondering how this would be pos- sible. How could we create a virtual event that would be valuable to attendees when so much emphasis is placed on sharing and meeting face to face? It was something our team had never done before. It felt like an enormous challenge, to say the least. Aer seeing other industry associations take their conferences online, it was now IPC's turn to tackle a fully virtual technical conference. Aer some time to think about the best path forward, the choice was clear—we had to build the stron- gest technical conference we could, offering content that mattered most to attendees dur- ing this time of unprecedented change. Now that the show has ended, here are some of my thoughts and observations from the expe- rience. IPC APEX EXPO 2021 was built from the ground up and was intended to be future- focused while continuing to drive the industry forward. We built a strong five-day program consisting of three technical tracks with more than 70 presentations, 29 professional devel- opment courses, and three keynote speak- ers. Virtual delivery of the event consisted of recorded presentations to ensure a successful delivery of content and live Q&A sessions. We chose to use recorded content not only for seamless delivery, but also because IPC APEX EXPO 2021 was designed to be portable, avail- able to attendees for 90-days post show, March 15 through June 13. It is clear that the electronics manufacturing industry is officially in the early stages of Indus- try 4.0. Our industry is now beginning to move beyond awareness into actual implementation of new technology adoption and new ways of working, requiring next-generation technolo- gists with next-generation skills. We saw this during the call for participation and through- out the event, with a significantly large num- ber of Factory of the Future abstracts submit- ted—which enabled us to create a full 24-pre- sentation track spanning smart manufacturing advancements, data analytics, cybersecurity, powering IoT, 5G, and digital twin. I was par- ticularly interested to listen to industry leaders from Europe showcasing how far along they are in their digital transformation journey, esti- mated to be five to eight years ahead of the rest

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