I was at SMTAI 2011 last week and, as usual, JoAnn Stromberg and team did an amazing job.
I think SMTAI's technical program is the best around, offering scores of topics and world class speakers. I chaired a session (MFX4) Alternate Lead-Free Alloys, with papers by Dr. Ning-Cheng Lee, Srinivas Chada, and Jasbir Bath.
I also co-authored three papers:
2. Correlation of SIR, Halide/Halogen and Copper Mirror Tests, with Nicole Palma
3. Minimizing Voiding in QFN Packages Using Solder Preforms, with Seth Homer
The technical sessions were extremely well attended, with 30-60 people in each. An emerging trend is that the tech sessions are swamped and the show floor not so much. I think the Internet allows people to get a sense of products online, while the technical talks enable one-on-one discussions with experts in the Q&A after the papers. It is tough to beat this interaction, even in an Internet world.
The new hot topic, to me, is the interest in "Conflict Minerals." I participated in a panel discussion on this topic (see image). It appears that the Dowd-Frank act will require publicly held companies to show "due diligence" in investigating their supply chain to determine if their tin, tantalum, gold, and tungsten come from "conflict" mines. This requirement will likely ripple up and down the supply chain. So we all need to become knowledgeable in this topic. Indium Corporation is very involved in this.
As for the venue, Forth Worth was nicer than I expected (not that a business traveler ever gets to see much). There was a nice restaurant area near the conference center. It reminded me of the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego. But for me, I longed for Disney World a little. Next year!