Military IC group goes through transformation

SAN JOSE, Calif. - An exodus at one of the most influential industry groups concerned with military integrated circuits issues - the Semiconductor Industry Association Government Procurement Committee (SIA GPC) - caused a major shakeup in its membership.

Dec 1st, 1998

By John Keller

SAN JOSE, Calif. - An exodus at one of the most influential industry groups concerned with military integrated circuits issues - the Semiconductor Industry Association Government Procurement Committee (SIA GPC) - caused a major shakeup in its membership.

Although the group`s aims remain essentially the same, two of its best known members depart from the group as they also leave their respective companies. The SIA GPC formed in 1984.

Leaving the SIA GPC are John Hartman, formerly of Analog Devices Inc. of Wilmington, Mass., and Joe Chapman of the of the Texas Instruments (TI) Semiconductor military products group of Sherman, Texas.

Hartman and Chapman are among the committee`s most experienced members. They leave the group at a crucial time - as military systems designers and semiconductor manufacturers struggle with making the transition from mil-spec to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts.

Hartman left Analog Devices this past fall in a company reorganization, and Chapman was to leave TI Nov. 30 to start his own consulting business.

TI`s military semiconductor group is transferring to Sherman, Texas, from its former headquarters in Midland, Texas, and Chapman says he does not want to leave his family and friends in Midland.

The departures of Hartman and Chapman from the SIA GPC are causing concern among some government and industry experts.

"I don`t think it`s a good thing," says Greg Saunders, director of the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency Defense Standardization Program Office at Fort Belvoir, Va. Saunders has been one of the leaders in DOD when it comes to tacking reliability issues in COTS designs.

"This takes two people who have tremendous background and knowledge of what`s happened with the electronic industry and its response to the military`s needs," Saunders says. "It`s a bit of a concern from that standpoint - the loss of that amount of experience all at once."

Replacing Chapman on the committee is Robert Kroeger, general manager of the TI Semiconductor military products group. Hartman`s replacement from Analog Devices is yet to be determined. Replacing Chapman as chairman of the SIA GPC is Brian Hagerty, space products director of the Harris Semiconductor Sector Space and Defense Products group in Melbourne, Fla.

Other experts in the military semiconductor field, however, say the departures of Harman and Chapman will not adversely affect the SIA GPC.

"Joe and John were very very experienced guys, but I think that people who may not be as well known, but who are certainly very experienced, are replacing them," says the committee`s longest-serving member, Jim Asher of Rochester Electronics in Newburyport, Mass.

"The makeup of the committee is representative of what is happening," Asher says. "The role of the committee is changing with the times. Ten years ago it was all about specs. Today it is still about military and the customer, but it is the COTS issue, upscreening, and more and more obsolescence. You see that in the committee."

Two of the committee`s chief concerns are how to deal with rapid parts obsolescence in military systems as designers rely increasingly on commercial devices, and how to ensure IC reliability in demanding military systems as program managers substitute industry standards for known military standards.

Hartman says systems designers in government and industry should not count him out, even though he has left the SIA GPC and Analog Devices.

"We will always be SIA GPC alumni, and we keep in touch," Hartman says. "This is one way the SIA GPC knowledge base continues, even though the membership changes. Our combined centuries of experience working as integrated circuit suppliers gives us special insight into what COTS issues will and will not work. We know where the snakes are and how to avoid them."

Chapman says the military semiconductor community has not seen the last of him. "I will miss the association with my colleagues and competitors on the committee, and I may find a way through consulting to stay engaged," Chapman says

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