Education and collaboration beyond borders

By Mark Diorio

“As a young engineer, I learned as much from traveling as I did while a student in a classroom.”

In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in the United States, we have seen the country come together in a fashion unprecedented for at least two generations. This is particularly impressive when you consider the cultural variety that has been assembled here. The number of very different belief structures that co-exist in the U.S. certainly creates challenges for us, but as a nation we see the benefit in facing and solving these challenges.

The Industry as a Microcosm

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So why is it that the microelectronics packaging community works so well together with a composition that is as culturally diverse as any industry? This industry crosses all sorts of borders, from Europe to North and South America to Australia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and beyond.

Perhaps we work well together because we are united by the common bond to advance the science of packaging, from performance and reliability to manufacturability and cost reduction. This is our mantra – a universally understood creed that indirectly bridges cultures. It would be an understatement to say that the cultural divide between many of the countries involved in packaging and assembly is great. Norms, practices and religion can vary significantly among these countries, but we conduct our business and work with our colleagues with great and repeated success. That's the point. Yes, there are some difficulties at times, but we continue to work together and learn to achieve success.

Common Bonds

Higher education can also bring understanding. We all have honed our basic expertise at places of higher learning, mostly at universities and liberal arts colleges. In so doing, we have read, learned and discussed a variety of disciplines that forces us to open our minds. We have been taught to understand diametrically opposing views and to reason without violence. I personally believe that beyond the combination of culture and religion, education is the strongest element for creating bonds among us.

Clearly, education also comes from experience; in many cases, we learn from our experiences and adjust our outlooks accordingly. As a young engineer working for a large semiconductor manufacturer and given the chance to travel the world, I learned as much from traveling abroad as I did while a student in a classroom. I learned more about different societies and cultural norms through discussions, meetings and various communications with colleagues than I could have from a book or a lecturer. Like many the world over, I discovered what was acceptable and what was not when visiting and living in other places, and I learned how to conduct myself accordingly.

Controlled Disagreements

All of this is not to say that there are not heated discussions between colleagues. Disagreement and tension – which can be influenced by culture on occasion – is inevitable. This is natural in the pursuit of science and in building a successful business. But regardless of race or religion or culture, arguments or disagreements are centrally focused on the issue at hand. While we may feel extremely devoted about defending our own ideas or concepts, we generally are open to the presentation of a stronger case. In packaging, a stronger case usually has a powerful ally called “data.” Data has the ability to level the playing field or to settle a disagreement. Data, or the lack thereof, usually determines a course of action.

Unity, in Business and in Life

In the packaging industry, we have spent the past 30 years working with colleagues all over the world – with individuals whose lives are shaped by a variety of cultural beliefs. We have formed businesses together; we have built factories together; and we have designed products and resolved problems together. We have presented our technical findings to each other openly at symposiums. Beyond the competition, some of us are also friends.

Our small, but diverse, group of packaging engineers and scientists worldwide has been united and will continue to be united in the pursuit of designing and assembling a better package. We will continue to strive to understand each other's rationale and each other's ideas. We will even use our cultural differences to enhance the generation and dissemination of our thoughts. And I believe I have the data to prove it. AP

Mark DiOrio, chief executive officer, can be contacted at MTBSolutions Inc., 1630 Oakland Road, Suite A102, San Jose, CA 95131-2450; 408-441-2173; Fax: 408-441-9700; E-mail: [email protected].


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