After nine months of Zooming into all the virtual events, I can’t wait for things to go live again. In the meantime, I took the opportunity last week to pop into the MEPTEC Holiday Hangout. As my last blog post of 2020, I thought I’d share some tidbits of the discussion. And then I’ll be taking a much-needed break until January 4th.

The informal gathering was hosted by MEPTEC’s Ira Feldman and Bette Cooper, who by the way have ROCKED the virtual event-scape with their free monthly Speaker Series. They too are hoping to resume their monthly luncheon schedule some time in 2021, but in the meantime will continue with the webinar series. A tip from Ira for successful virtual events: “They need to be engaging and interactive. If you’re going to drone on for 30 minutes, just record it and put it on YouTube,” he said. A tip for viewers: watch the videos a 1.5 speed to save time and still get all the information.

Always prepared, Ira had pulled together some conversation prompts to get us started:

What did we learn from 2020 that we want to carry over?

The group agreed that when we return to “normal”, we may not want to have quite so much travel – a lot can be accomplished in a Zoom call, particularly with established relationships. It’s hard to make new connections via Zoom.

Jan Vardaman, TechSearch International, had thoughts to share on the topic. Always on the road, Jan said she was long due to slow down travel. However, she still did a “tremendous amount of virtual travel.” Despite the pandemic, it was an incredibly good year for the electronics industry, she says. Staying connected with Asia and Europe meant lots of late nights, early mornings and long days. “2020 is the year of lack of sleep,” she said. She still prefers face-to-face interaction for getting the most information.

Where do we want to travel first for fun? For work?

That was an easy one for me: for fun, I want to fly back east in September for my daughter’s wedding. For work, I’ve got my sights set on SEMICON West in July – pending the availability of a vaccine.

Scott Clifford, UTAC, isn’t picky about where he travels, he just wants to travel again. “Meeting people in person would be fun,” he said. He’s also looking forward to when we don’t need to wear masks, and when we can get back to a sense of normalcy.

Dave Armstrong, Advantest, got philosophical with his response. Rather than traveling to a place, he’s focusing on life’s journey. “I’m figuring out where I want to go with my life. COVID has changed my perspective,” he said. “I want to be more engaged with society and less engaged with electrons and Ohm’s law.” This brought us to another of Ira’s questions:

What Charity Needs our Support?

While we tossed around charities that benefit STEM education, women-owned and under-represented-minority-owned businesses, the conversation quickly turned to the alarmingly high” number of homeless people in Silicon Valley, exacerbated by COVID. Phil Marcoux, an industry veteran who is now retired, shared stories of out-of-work service workers who are living in their cars, or if they are fortunate enough to have them, RVs.

Phil is on the board of Hope’s Corner, located at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Mountainview CA, is one of 67 food kitchens in the valley. They provide the homeless with free breakfast, bag lunches, and snack bags, and before COVID-19 a place to shower and launder clothes. Due to the pandemic, it’s shower & laundry program has been temporarily suspended. Phil, who is on the board of directors, said they are still running their holiday toy drive, and because the local police departments canceled their toy giveaways, have had a greater demand than usual. Hope’s Corner is always looking for volunteers and donations. Learn more here.

What topics would you like at the Speaker Series?

I dropped off the call before we got to this question, so I’m not sure what was discussed. I’m sure if you’ve got ideas, Ira and Bette are open to them. Let them know here! In the meantime, check out what’s coming in January.

That’s all from me for 2020. Here’s hoping 2021 is a better year! ~ FvT

Francoise von Trapp

They call me the “Queen of 3D” because I have been following the course of…

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