Getting the lead out of electronics isn’t easy. But Prof. Sammy Shina
has stayed the course since 1999. He founded the New England Lead-Free Electronics Consortium, a group of about 30 electronics companies, that has worked together to find safer alternatives to lead used on circuit boards.
For his leadership, inspiration and determination, the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), state Sen. Marc Pacheco, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection David Cash and state legislators recently recognized Shina as the “Academic Champion of Toxics Use Reduction” at a Massachusetts State House ceremony in June.
“As part of the Consortium, companies were able to participate in a neutral and safe environment at the university, where competitors, suppliers and customers collaborated together, even if they battled against each other in the marketplace,” said Shina at the awards ceremony.
Lead, used in solder paste and board surface component finishes, can cause acute and chronic health issues. The formation of the Consortium was driven by new European Union regulations that restrict lead used in electronics. The Consortium members banded together and contributed time, resources, materials and expertise to find safer solutions that worked.
Said Shina: “Most of the members of the Consortium and their supply chain met and exceeded these environmentally safe lead-free goals. We continued to work together to prove that lead-free products can be made in actual industrial and high-volume settings.”
Experienced Students Move Into Industry
TURI funded the work of the Consortium for many years through the Academic Research program to address the needs of Massachusetts companies in the electronics industry. Students involved in the lead-free research have moved into careers in both industry and academia. For example:
Dennis Gagne, who was supported by a TURI scholarship for his master’s degree, is now the senior quality manager at Juniper Networks in Westford.
Wil Desir, who worked on the research while pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering, is now a process engineer at EMD Millipore in Keene, N.H.
Greg Morose, who earned his Ph.D. from the lead-free research program, is now a research professor in the College of Health Sciences and research mat TURI.
“While we sometimes think of corporations as faceless structures, the representatives in the Consortium worked very hard and diligently to achieve the project goals. Most of them were contributing their own time and effort for success in the project. It has been a joy and a privilege to work with a fine group of professionals,” said Shina.
The Consortium is continuing its work on finding lead-free nano solder.
Shina said: “The mission continues with a new batch of Massachusetts students learning new technologies and going on to excel in academia and industry. This is the generation that will continue to lead us into a safer world by protecting our health and safety for future generations, like my children and grandchildren.”
Read about all 2014 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction.