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Kerrie works as a Process Engineer for Intel in their Leixlip manufacturing facility. She choose to study Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at Trinity College, a course she highly recommends. After three and a half years working as a Mechanical Engineer, she took up her current position as Process Engineer.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
In 5th Year of secondary school we had to choose our subject options for Leaving Cert. It was at this stage that I decided that Engineering was the path I wanted to pursue and as a result chose Chemistry and Technical Drawing as subjects, both of which have benefited me to date. Looking back I may have chosen Physics instead of business studies since Physics is a large part of Engineering
From there I went on to Study Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering in Trinity College Dublin. This is a great degree as the first two years are all streams of Engineering including Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electronic Engineering and Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, so you get a flavor of each type in your first two years. I felt I enjoyed and could pursue a career in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and hence that's what I chose to finish in my third and fourth years, so in essence this was a career milestone in my life.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
When I was young it was usually my mum who helped me with my Maths homework, my mum who fixed the washing machine if it was broken (or tried to at least) and my mum who would generally do all the DIY around the house. It was my dad who wasn't too happy when he caught me unscrewing the TV remote control to see what it was made up of. So you could say my mum helped me along in deciding to be an Engineer.
Also my Career Guidance Counsellor helped in letting me know what engineering courses were available to apply to and my Tech. Drawing teacher answered loads of questions for me when I was applying for courses.
How did you go about getting your current job?
While in Secondary School Intel came on a Road Show advertising their products, what they did and what kind of careers they had to offer. They also advertised the fact that they offered scholarships in the field of Engineering to Students entering into third level education. Hence I decided to investigate and applied for this programme and was successful in receiving Intel's Women in Technology Undergraduate Scholarship. With this scholarship came the opportunity to come work in Intel for 2 summers while I was in college, which I did.
On leaving college I then found there was an opening in Intel for a Manufacturing Engineer. I applied for the Job and after 3 interviews I got the Job. During my time as a Manufacturing Engineer I had the opportunity to live in Portland, Oregon for a year and have traveled to America on business on numerous occasions.
After three and a half years as a Manufacturing Engineer I decided to pursue a career in Process Engineering and I have been doing this now for three years within Intel. There is always the chance to learn, grow and develop within Intel and there are opportunities to move from department to department, as I have experienced.
Describe a typical day?
Everyday is completely different in the world of a Process Engineer in Intel. As part of the worlds largest Computer Chip manufacturer it is my responsibility that the machines that I take care of as part of making a computer chip, are able to maintain this status of excellence on a 24 hour 7 day a week basis.
The machines which I am responsible for are located in what we call ' A Cleanroom'. We are clothed from head to toe in white suits that we call 'Bunny Suits' as the environment is 10000 times cleaner than a hospital theatre. First thing each morning we analyse the previous 24 hours performance from a productivity, performance and maintenance point of view.
All machines status and plans for any maintenance or experiments are planned for the next 24hrs. All plans need to be carefully communicated to all those involved. There are weekly/monthly goals and challenges that are set for each machine and when we achieve these targets there is usually a recognition or reward received which is always a great motivator.
Within this area it is my job to sustain and improve equipment performance for the manufacturing process on my machines. It is important to ensure that my machine operates in a safe manner, and to ensure that operationally the machine is available for production and has the capability to produce great computer chips with minimal defects. Equipment issues continuously arise that need disposition and this aspect of problem solving is part of my job which motivates me and I really enjoy. Cost analysis as well as training are also an integral part of my daily job.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
Owning the operational indicators such as safety, availability, line yield, die yield and defect reduction.
Responsible for excursion prevention, process and equipment improvements which are to be attained through practical use of control methods, data extraction and analysis.
Responsible for equipment installation, qualification, process development and cost reduction - Working closely with my counterparts in Intel sites in USA
What are the main challenges?
Starting up a new technology in Intel is always challenging especially when we have to install and deinstall new or old machinery. There are tight install schedules that are planned and developed months in advance and they are all interlinked into other areas within the factory and hence meeting these schedules will determine if the product starts being made on time.
To qualify new machines there is heavy engineering involvement for installation of the machinery itself, the support facilities it uses and then the qualification of the new process which has to meet tight criteria before it is allowed run any new product through it. Although it is a challenging time, it is an exciting time and there is a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction when the machines start running for the first time
What's not so cool?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Subjects I look were Chemistry, Technical Drawing, Business Studies and German for my Leaving Cert. All of which I have used since and believe it or not business aspects including accounting are an integral part of engineering
I would say that Physics and Applied Maths would have come in very useful as it was tough entering an Engineering Degree without having either of these.
What is your education to date?
I attended Colaiste Chiarain Secondary School in Leixlip.
I then attended Trinity College Dublin to Study Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. Once this four year course completed I started looking for a job and just this year I have gone back to college part time in Trinity to study a Higher Diploma in Project Management which is a 1 year course.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
To start out with I was in manufacturing engineering so the modules in college with respect to this have been useful over the years. Obviously Engineering is quite mathematical hence the numerous flavors of Math's we did in college from Algebra to Statistics to Applied Maths. All have come in useful, not all at once but at some stage or another.
Within my job we are encouraged to further our education and the company will sometimes even fund it. As previously mentioned I am back as a student again studying Project Management which I believe I will use extensively in my job.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
When I first went to college I applied for a scholarship through the Intel Young People in Technology award scheme.
I suppose receiving the Woman in Technology award was a high in my career achievements and one that I am proud of as it has since opened many doors to in career. It also helped fund my four years in college which was an added bonus. It was a good start.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
I see myself as quite an enthusiastic person with a good sense of ownership on any aspect of a job I am working on and this helps to be able to deliver projects of high quality and on time. I would also say I have good teamwork skills and am a good team player.
My communication skills have improved over the years also and this is important in the environment I work in. I am quite a sociable person and get on very well with my colleagues so that always makes work a lot easier to do.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Working for Intel it strives to always help out and be flexible with your work life balances. Often working long hours are an integral part of the job (any job really) but overall if you need time off it is never seen as a big problem. The pay is competitive so it allows me enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.
Within Intel we also have a Sports and Social club. There are often events like Cinema nights or a Halloween Party and Summer BBQ's which are laid on which are always good craic. As well as that we have a Gym onsite with Circuit classes etc. laid on in the evenings.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
A day for a Process Engineer at Intel can range from spending all day in what we call our 'bunny suits' or space suits as most people would recognise them as or a day of juggling meetings with working on long term projects that have a quality improvement for your product or have a cost saving for the factory. The key thing is to be adaptable, be organised and be able to communicate your plans clearly and concisely. You will be your own boss in many instances as an engineer and it is up to you to get the job done and do it well, while at the same time meeting goals and challenges that are set for the factory.
The great thing about a process engineer at Intel is that much or your work can be done remotely, which means you don't have to sit at your desk all day allowing you to get in to the machines and get stuck in. One should also be aware that you will be continuously learning in this sort of environment. Because our technology is so up to date we are always making changes to make this possible. Our products will range from mobile phone chips to top of the range computer chips so we need to be able to make changes to meet the demands of what the market is looking for.
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
For working in such a large multinational company as Intel I would say that being able to work in a team is quite important. Be a self starter: Take the initiative and go for it. Have good communication skills: Be able to communicate with your direct customers and peers as this will be a daily occurrence for you.
What is your favourite music?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
At Intel we are encouraged to continue our training and there are a number of courses available on site whether it is a Time Management course or a statistic source. My job deals with million dollar machines which have hundreds of different mechanical components as well as numerous different types of software so I need to be trained to a high standard so that I am able to fully trouble shoot any of problems that are encountered on this machine.
Training for this takes place in America, so my job also provides a great opportunity to travel and see the world while at the same time learning. I have also lived in USA for 1 year as part of training for our new factory. This gave me the opportunity to train under world class engineers and the experience was amazing. Not only did I really enjoy the experience I came home with a lot of new knowledge and skills that have been applied in my job here on an everyday basis.
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
In general if you have no work experience and are new starting out in engineering, you will be fine. You will be trained to do the job you are hired for. If you did want to have experience, a large manufacturing company is the obvious choice. There are many types out there. Intel is quite specialised in that it is a Computer Device facility. There are also multiple Pharmaceutical company's in Ireland which would provide valuable experience also.