IPC/WHMA-A-620 Space Alternate Training Credentials for Inspectors-Only

IPC/WHMA-A-620 Space Alternate Training Credentials for Inspectors-Only

3-minute read

NASA’s Workmanship Standards Program is piloting a new training process with Johnson Space Center’s Receiving and Inspection Test facility that will allow personnel who take the IPC/WHMA-A-620 Space course at NASA training facilities to work as inspectors on NASA flight hardware. This training will provide efficiencies not available when using the training program offered by the IPC, who trains hardware builders and hardware inspectors in the same manner. This training program will be provided only to those who only perform inspections and not to those who will build the hardware.

“Several years ago, the agency adopted the IPC/WHMA-A-620-Space standard as an equivalent standard to NASA-STD-8739.4, Workmanship Standard for Crimping, Interconnecting Cables, Harnesses and Wiring,” said Alvin Boutte, Workmanship Standards program manager. “It is now recognized as the preferred document for all new NASA programs and projects, but, with  increased acceptance of this standard along with its training program, comes new obstacles that must be addressed to ensure that NASA and IPC policy are in harmony.”

NASA-STD-8739.6, Implementation Requirements for NASA Workmanship Standards training policy identifies three roles of personnel who support the development of flight hardware; operator, inspector and instructor. Unique proficiency exams and grading policies are defined for each role. An operator builds, reworks, repairs and tests the hrdware in accordance with the requirements of the applicable Workmanship technical standard. Inspectors can be employed by the manufacturing entity — first-party Quality Assurance (QA) — or by the recipient of the hardware for confirming product Quality before accepting it — second-party QA.

IPC also identifies three roles in their training program, which include Certified IPC Specialist (CIS), Certified IPC Trainer and Master IPC Trainer, but the CIS role serves as both the operator and inspector roles identified by NASA.  

The three-day IPC/WHMA-A-620 base training course contains no hands-on exercises or practical examination for CIS students. This training doesn’t meet NASA-STD-8739.6 policy, which requires both ungraded hands-on demonstrations and exercises and a practical examination for all students. 

The IPC/WHMA-A-620 Space training module, created with support from NASA, includes hands-on exercises and a practical examination for students but is focused primarily on personnel who build mission hardware as opposed to those who inspect mission hardware. 

The training process being piloted will provide customized instruction to the IPC/WHMA-A-620 Space addendum and include a practical inspection examination for students. It will be administered following the successful completion of the IPC/WHMA-A-620 base training, which provides students with a strong understanding of IPC’s interpretation of each of the written requirements. It also entitles the student to an IPC/WHMA-A-620 CIS certification to the base document and, as a precondition to take the customized instructions, enables incoming personnel who already hold this credential to bypass that part of the training.  

The examination will ensure that inspector students are familiar with the IPC standard they will be inspecting to, including both the base and space requirement sets, and have demonstrated proficiency when inspecting representative hardware to those requirements. It will not train or formally evaluate students’ ability to build the hardware, which is much more time-consuming and costly, and is not work performed by personnel who only do inspections, in particular second-party inspectors.

Since this process is a deviation from IPC’s standard procedure, the inspector-only students will not receive an IPC/WHMA-A-620 Space CIS certification, but instead a training credential from the NASA Workmanship Standards Program. This will give NASA programs and projects the ability to allow these individuals to work as inspectors on NASA flight hardware either in a first-party or second-party capacity. Any party employed by NASA for conducting second-party inspections will be eligible for this training approach, including engineering services contractors and Defense Contract Management Agency personnel. This change will remain valid until canceled or superseded by changes to NASA-STD-8739.6.

Depending on the success of the pilot, this process may be modified in the future to include a NASA-developed IPC/WHMA-A-620 Space training for inspectors-only that could replace the standard IPC/WHMA-A-620 Space course altogether.

For additional information on implementation or participation in this process, contact Boutte.