Catching up with…Dr. Anthony Caputo

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I met Dr. Anthony Caputo last year while helping one of my clients secure some strong engineering talent. Anthony had been reading my columns and reached out to me since he was looking for a new opportunity in a high-tech printed circuit board facility. Once I read his CV and saw his credentials, I jumped at that chance to help this talented young man.

Anthony was also very focused on becoming an integral part of our industry and he was extremely well-educated—a Ph.D. in fact—in those things we need the most: the science of printed circuit boards. As you’ll read in the following interview he specializes in high-technology from 3D printing to CAF, HAST, and ECM. I thought I had hit the trifecta! Except for one thing. He is Canadian, which means that whoever hires him must do some paperwork to help him work here in the U.S. so that he can get his visa.

And that is the reason for this interview. I want to get Anthony’s name and most importantly, credentials and capabilities out in the marketplace. Here is someone who stands to not only help an American company with their technology, but also the industry.

We recently corresponded via email for this interview.

Dan: Anthony, please tell the I-Connect007 readers about your background.

Anthony: My pleasure, Dan. I have a very diverse background in design, reliability testing, non-destructive testing, and failure analysis of advance materials for electronic packages, 3D integrated circuit technology, 3D printing, printed circuit boards (PCBs) and assemblies, and lithium batteries for applications applicable to consumer electronics, medical devices, aerospace, automotive, electric vehicles, and down-hole oil and gas exploration. More generally, I am an expert in the following areas:  electrochemical migration (ECM), conductive anodic filament (CAF), solder fluxes, corrosion, electrochemistry, PCB design, substrate packaging, accelerated testing (i.e., temperature-humidity-bias testing)/HAST, electron microscopy, electrochemistry, semiconductors, mechanical testing, chemical synthesis, polymers, ionic liquid (molten salts that are liquid below 100 0C) electrolytes, lithium polymer ionic liquid batteries, battery safety, and the development of intellectual property for electronic and energy storage applications. 

Dan: And what is your education?

Anthony: I completed my Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, working under the supervision of Dr. Laura Turbini, who is formerly the principal scientist at Blackberry. I hold a B.S. degree in chemistry, and a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in materials engineering, also from U of T. Upon completion of my doctorate, I was a postdoctoral associate at MIT working under the supervision of Professor Donald R. Sadoway.

Dan: Anthony, in terms of the PCB industry what are your areas of expertise?

Anthony: I am an expert in the following areas: 1) Materials characterization and failure analysis (FA); 2) Li-ion polymer battery development; 3) ionic liquid, polymer development & synthesis; 4) Electrochemistry; 5) environmental accelerated testing/HAST; 6) reliability testing & development; 7) ECM and conductive anodic filament (CAF); and 8) PWB design and material selection.

More generally, I am an expert in: corrosion, reliability, ECM, chemical synthesis, semiconductor packaging, polymers, electrolyte development, battery performance, battery safety, and design of experiments.

Dan: Let’s talk about your work history so far. What, for example, have you done in the board industry?

Anthony: My doctoral work with Blackberry focused on electrochemical corrosion failure modes in printed wiring boards. All my doctoral work was conducted in an industrial setting (i.e., Blackberry’s Materials Interconnect Lab), and I worked closely with PCB fabricators, material suppliers, and OEMs. This work led to several publications and invited talks. This work was very influential in understanding of how fluxes and surface finishes interact with the PCB material. My work was also very influential in understanding coupon design, and what are safe operating conductor pitches—this is very important as we move to miniaturization.

As a postdoctoral associate at MIT, I worked on a topic unrelated to my doctoral thesis, which involved electrolyte development (both ionic liquids and polymers) using electrochemical techniques such as ac-impedance, cyclic voltammetry (CV), and high-temperature cycling of coin cells to gain an in-depth understanding of electrolyte performance to develop safer lithium polymer batteries. This work led to the development of a new polymer ionic liquid (PIL) approach to improve both the cathode/electrolyte interfacial resistance, and overall performance of the battery (U.S. Patent No. 9,203,109 B2). This work hopes to revolutionize the battery industry and produce the world’s safest and most reliable battery for a wide range of applications. My postdoctoral work has also led to several conference presentations and publications.

Upon completion of my postdoctoral work, I joined Isola Group as a reliability scientist. My role at Isola Group was directly related to my doctoral work. As reliability scientist, I focused on ECM and CAF formation. I was responsible for developing internal ECM testing protocols, participating in industry relevant committees (i.e., member of the IPC ECM and CAF task groups), interfacing with customers, supporting the OEM marketing group, setting up and running DOEs, helping improve manufacturing quality, and performing root cause failure analysis. My work resulted in educational webinars to the industry, and in 2015 I co-authored a book chapter on ECM and CAF. I also received a special recognition award by IPC in 2016 for my leadership and work in the revision of the “IPC-9691—User Guide for the IPC-TM-650, Method 2.6.25, Conductive Anodic Filament (CAF) Resistance & Other Internal Electrochemical Migration Testing.”

Dan: What would you like to do? What kind of positiondr would you like to get?

Anthony: I have a very diverse background. Ideally, I would like to work in the electronics industry, but I am open to a variety of opportunities. I view myself as a problem solver with a wide range of expertise that I can apply to PCBs, components, assemblies, systems, coatings, Li-ion batteries etc. My interest to expand my knowledge base and apply my diverse, multidisciplinary background would be an asset to help develop, solve problems, and support many groups on a large scale at PCB fabricators, material suppliers, and OEMs. I do enjoy working with people, so consulting type roles would also be welcome.

Dan: Describe for me the position for which you would perfectly suited.

Anthony: My ideal role would allow me to apply my diverse background to help solve problems.  The role can be related to PCBs and assemblies, energy storage, reliability, failure analysis, working with design teams to help reduce potential failure risks, semiconductor packaging, batteries, etc.  A fast paced, innovative culture, which pushes the limits of technology, would be a fun environment to work in. I do enjoy working with people, so a team-oriented company would be welcomed.

Dan: So, I understand you are in kind of dilemma since you are a Canadian citizen trying to find a position in the U.S. Tell me about that please.

Anthony: This is a very good question. As a Canadian, I am eligible for the TN Visa program, which is part of NAFTA, and exclusive to citizens of Canada, United States, and Mexico. For Canadians, all that is required is an offer letter from the employer, which I would then take to any border crossing, along with my Ph.D. degree, and activate the TN visa instantly. This is a quick and painless visa to obtain, and no sponsorship is required.

Dan: Companies are shying away from hiring you because of ITAR. But I understand that there is a process that a company could take if they did in fact want to hire you; can you please explain how that works?

Anthony: There are many Canadians working in the United States in ITAR related roles and at jobs requiring security clearance.  ITAR does have a program where Canadians can get clearance, and a chaperone is required when non-U.S. citizens/non-green cardholders would be in areas where ITAR work is being done. Separately, for roles involving security clearance, the U.S. Department of State does allow non-U.S. citizens to obtain security clearance in specific situations wherein there are compelling reasons for limited access to be granted to an immigrant alien or foreign national employee who possesses a special expertise that is needed for specific programs, projects, contracts, licenses, certificates, or grants. Due to my very diverse, and unique background, I would be in a very good position to obtain both ITAR, and/or security clearance.

Dan: So, if a U.S company wanted to hire you, how complicated would all of this be and how long would it take?

Anthony: For roles that do not require ITAR or security clearance, the process is instant. If I were to receive an offer, I would then have the employer provide me with a letter, which I would take to any border crossing, along with my Ph.D. degree and activate the TN visa instantly. For roles requiring ITAR or security clearance, there is some paperwork, and the process could take anywhere from 3–6 months.

Dan: Are there some companies who could hire you without worrying about ITAR? What kind of companies would those be?

Anthony: This is a great question. Most companies do not work on government-contracted work related to aerospace and defense. I would say 95% of companies out there do not work on ITAR projects or roles that require security clearance. This means that in most cases, if I am offered employment, I can obtain a TN visa instantly.

Dan: So, what is the next step for you?

Anthony: I am in the process of actively looking for new job opportunities. It is very exciting for me to live and work in the United States. It has always been a dream of mine, as a kid growing up in Canada to live in the United States, and one day become a U.S. citizen. I have a unique and diverse background that is geared towards contributing to the continued dominance of the United States in the areas of research & development, and the advancement of technology.

Dan: Tony, if someone wants to speak to you, how to they get in touch with you?

Anthony: I can be contacted at tcaputo@mit.edu, or by phone at: (857) 756-4310.

Dan: Any final thoughts?

Anthony: Dan, I want to thank you for your wonderful questions, as well as all the folks who have taken the time to learn about my background and professional interests. I presently reside in the Phoenix area, but I am open to relocation anywhere in the United States.

Dan: Well good luck Anthony, I hope someone will read this interview and can find something for you.

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