Why IC Industry Is Great Place To Work

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, Lam Research’s Samantha Tan talks about why the semiconductor industry is a great place to work.


In honor of International Women in Engineering Day (June 23), here are some thoughts from Samantha Tan, Lam Research Fellow, about her path to the semiconductor industry and why it is a great place to work.

Samantha Tan, Lam Research FellowSE: How did you get interested in science and engineering?
I became interested during middle school when I started learning about science in depth for the first time. I was fascinated when I saw a new world below the surface, from the molecules to kinetics and the mechanics behind the things we take for granted each day. It grew my curiosity to understand how things work; the more I learned, the more I wanted to know more.

SE: Who were your role models?
There are many good people to look up to as role models, and I would say at the top of my list are Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Mahatma Gandhi.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg broke barriers in various areas and stood up for woman’s rights, but what makes really makes me admire her is her perseverance. Later in her age, despite having cancer and physical challenges, she still persevered. She was such a strong woman and the ultimate example of dedication to her life’s work.

Mahatma Gandhi for how he lived his life, his wisdom and for persevering against all odds.

SE: What are you working on now?
I am responsible for pathfinding disruptive solutions to enable key technology inflections and to solve customer grand challenges. We come up with out of box ideas for etch and deposition. My team looks at processes or work that people have not done before, focusing on finding a high-risk approach that can also potentially net a high return on the solution. An example of a new technology from our work is dry resist technology, which extends EUV lithography’s resolution, productivity and yield.

SE: What do you like about what you are working on?
The semiconductor industry is both exciting and gratifying because our work is the foundation for breakthroughs in areas such as robotics and medical science. Exploring new spaces that few or no one has done before is thrilling. Another aspect of my job I like is working closely with university students on ideas that can help change the world.

SE: What are some of the things you like about your job?
Every day I work with highly talented engineers to devise solutions to a problem no one has solved. I work with like-minded engineers who want to be challenged by having to solve seemingly impossible tasks that the industry may have been trying to find a solution to for many years.

SE: What would you tell young people about the semiconductor industry? What are the rewards?
When I started in the semiconductor industry more than 25 years ago, everything we did was new and exciting – and that hasn’t changed. Chips are needed everywhere, from cars to rockets to medical devices. With a continuous stream of new and more complicated requirements for chips, there continues to be no limit to innovation in the industry. To young people, I would tell them there is much opportunity for you to save the world in the semiconductor industry, so come on in.

SE: Is there a particular area of expertise that young people should go into?
I would not say there is a specific area they should go into within science and engineering. I think they should follow their heart and interests versus the job that pays the highest because doing what they love is where true satisfaction comes from.

For those who choose to go into the semiconductor industry, I ask them to tell me what they like first and offer paths for them to do what they enjoy, whether it’s modeling, simulation or inventing a process. When they are working on what they are most interested in, they will do it with more passion, which is a win-win situation for both sides.

For young folks who want to pursue a technical path at Lam Research, I ask them to find opportunities in and outside their area to innovate and not be afraid to take on a challenging project. I encourage them to be brave and develop new concepts and a disruptive approach or solution. I also say to be optimistic, have FUN, and find excitement and joy because complex problems sometimes take a while to solve.


Mark Camenzind says:

Thanks Samantha for being a true industry leader, including developing ICP-MS into a leading elemental analytical method for all industries, including semiconductors, water etc. and many other accomplishments in technology and business.

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