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Engineers’ Experiences Around The World

Motivations and challenges for engineers and students across five key regions.

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As CTO, I see my role partially as strengthening the engineering community through program reviews, engineering education programs, conferences, seminars, and the product life cycle process at KLA. I also think it is critically important to spark engineering enthusiasm – helping engineers rediscover the excitement and curiosity that helps drive innovation. When inspired to create, engineers can come together and form a strong community that leverages their diverse thinking and skills to help us maintain our technology leadership.

We recently unveiled the KLA Engineering Inspiration Report, which explores the passions, motivations, challenges, and skills of engineers across five key regions—the U.S., the U.K., Taiwan, China, and Israel. When I talk about the engineering community, I want to celebrate the various journeys that we’ve all taken to get to where we are – and that’s part of what this data showed. So, let us dig in on that a little.

According to the research, engineers are looking for opportunities to change the world. In every region, engineers and students rank the ‘ability to solve problems’ as one of the top motivators for pursuing a career in the engineering field. Similarly, every region tiers the ‘opportunity to create something that might change people’s lives’ as one of the top motivators for entering the career.

In other words, engineers around the world feel a sense of purpose. I have long said that I think KLA as a company has a purpose and a mission to do grand scale research and development—like we did with our industry-leading BBP and Surfscan SP7 inspection platforms. For those not familiar, our 39xx/29xx optical patterned wafer inspection systems utilize revolutionary broadband plasma (BBP) light sources, objectives, and sensors. Likewise, our Surfscan SP7 unpatterned wafer inspection system leverages an innovative system architecture and DUV laser. With these technologies, both products discover the tiniest nanoscale defect during chip manufacturing, helping our customers understand and address the critical process issues that could affect chip performance. If we don’t do the grand scale development, then our customers would not have the innovations to use and would see delays in their own product roadmaps.

While many engineers are motivated by the sense of purpose, the diversity in experiences and thinking are what help us progress the field and continue to innovate. We looked at some of the major regional differences in what motivates, inspires, and challenges students and professionals when joining the field, and here’s a snapshot of what we found in each region:

In China…

Nearly nine in 10 (88%) working engineers say they would recommend becoming an engineer to someone they know. On average, engineers in China say 55% of their success is dependent on team collaboration, possibly speaking to a cultural difference as no other region attributed so much of their success to teamwork. And almost one-third (29%) of engineers say they are most motivated to stay in engineering because they previously created a product that they are proud of and want to do it again.

In Taiwan…

A majority (70%) of engineers and students say the digital revolution (i.e., the birth and use of AI, machine learning and other technologies) plays a role in inspiring their career or interest in engineering.

As far as education goes, more than half (57%) of engineers and students were motivated to pursue engineering by being able to use their aptitude or training in STEM. Yet, also more than half (56%) of students and professional engineers say the time it takes to become an engineer is a barrier to more people choosing that career path.

In Israel…

Students and engineers alike see the opportunities to bring the future to today (58%) and to change people’s lives (55%) as two of the top motivators to join the field. Yet, half (50%) of engineering students and professionals say the stress of achieving academic excellence is a barrier to more people choosing the field. And, one in four (24%) professionals and students say someone discouraged them from a career in engineering – the highest percentage amongst many of the regions surveyed.

Despite the challenges, three in four (76%) professional engineers feel just as passionate or more passionate about their jobs now than when they were studying to become an engineer—suggesting the hard work pays off in the end.

In the U.K…

More than nine in 10 (94%) students say they are very passionate about the opportunity to become and engineer—and a similar number of professionals (88%) say they would recommend becoming an engineer to someone they know. Yet, nearly one in four (26%) students and professionals say that being unaware of engineering as a career path is a barrier to entry.

And, finally in the U.S…

Like the U.K., the majority of students (93%) are passionate about the opportunity to become an engineer, and nearly all professionals (93%) would recommend the career to someone they know. In the U.S., passion exceeds expectations—with 70% of engineering professionals saying they are just as, if not more, passionate about their careers now than when they started and 78% of engineers feel it’s better than they thought it would be before starting on the career path.

In my experience, no two engineering careers are the same. It’s what makes the engineering profession so amazing and inspiring to me—and why I chose KLA in 1984. To learn more about careers at KLA, please visit, www.kla.com/careers — and of course, check out the full report findings and hear the stories of KLA employees at www.kla.com/EngineeringInspiration.



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