I saw the post of Process Engineer advertised in the Irish Times. At the time I was in the final stages of writing my PhD thesis so I applied for the position by sending in my CV & a cover letter. I got called for an interview.
The interview process consisted of 3 interviews all with senior managers in the company & covered questions on my CV while also probing my technical & behavioural skills. I was offered a position about 2 weeks later by phone which was subsequently followed by formal offer letter & contract in the post.
Describe a typical day?
Usually on site between 7.30 & 8am. First task of day is into cleanroom for passdown meeting with manufacturing dept. where issues/progress in the area over the previous 24hours is reviewed. After passdown discuss with manufacturing the plan for the day & discuss any quality issues/problems currently in the area that need engineering support. After this my day is usually a mix of meetings and project work. As the process is an integrated one, it is necessary to continuously meet with other modules & departments to discuss process marginalities & ongoing projects designed to improve the process technology & yields.
We also operate a change control philosophy with other Intel sites so it is necessary to meet with representatives from these sites & share learning's. Outside of meetings the major part of my day is spent on project work which could be anything from process improvement projects to cost related projects. For example at the moment I am working on the startup & ramp of a new 65nm process into F24. Owing to time differences, the latter part of most days is spent in meetings with US based engineers & contractors.
Other days then I could be teaching/training or travelling so the workload is quite varied.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
My main responsibilities are:
Process tool ownership and qualification of new processes
Regular monitoring of tool and process performance
Troubleshooting process marginalities and defect analysis & reduction
Devising and managing projects which will result in safety, yield, cost and manufacturing improvements
Module representative at meetings with other Intel sites or with contractors and suppliers
Training - responsible for training technicians and fellow engineers on process and equipment
Mentor - responsible for mentoring recent college graduates
Research - when time permits present research work and improvements at conferences.
What are the main challenges?
Probably the biggest challenge is balancing workload & prioritising tasks. The other main challenge is keeping up with technology changes - our process & products change regularly so getting time to read literature and keep up to speed with new technologies can be daunting.
Sometimes troubleshooting complex process issues can be difficult as you are reliant on powerful analytical tools owing to the scale of the devices we make.
The process - we operate on the nanoscale so when you think about the fact that you can build millions of transistors on a piece of silicon the size of a fingernail it's amazing! Intel is at the forefront of silicon technology so it's nice to know that you are in a company which is the world leader in its field. The travel is also a bonus.
What's not so cool?
Due to the time difference meetings with US sites can often result in meetings late into the evening! Also the change control process can be drawn out which can get frustrating at times. Otherwise I can't think of any other negatives associated with this job.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
Firstly I possess strong interpersonal skills - I am easy to get on with and work well with others which are important as it's very much a team environment. I also conduct teaching & training to others and chair meetings so it's important to be patient, communicate well and be organised.
From a technical viewpoint I have worked across multiple modules within the company which has given me strong technical ability and excellent knowledge of the process. These are vital skills needed to carry out daily tasks like investigating process marginalities, analysing and interpreting data and determining areas of the process where changes are needed.
In addition I have vast experience in managing large projects and writing reports and industry papers. I am also very keen and ambitious which helps to keep me focused and gives me the drive to succeed.