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Launching my Future in Engineering – Key Learnings about a STEM Career

By Megan Ruddy, Graduate Process Engineer

In the world of technology, we are continuously looking for innovative solutions that are renewable, eco-friendly, and sustainable. Consumers expect their products to be better, faster, and ideally, less expensive than what is already on the market. A key to meeting these demands frequently lies within talented and motivated engineers—which is why being an engineer is a crucial part of today’s ever-changing world!

I am Megan Ruddy, a graduate process engineer at Diodes Incorporated’s plant based in Greenock, UK, and after my three-month internship and subsequent full-time employment with the company, I am becoming increasingly aware of these various challenges that engineers face as part of the constantly evolving semiconductor industry.

As a process engineer within the company’s photolithography group in one of the company’s several  wafer fabrication facilities, I work with issues relating to processes, equipment malfunctions, and design. Diodes is also bringing in new technologies which require astute engineering attention to create new wafer routes and recipes on each tool set.

These challenges are just a part of the job, and I am far from apprehensive. The education and skills I’ve acquired from the University of Strathclyde has prepared me to work in this fast-paced industry, and upon accepting Diodes’ job offer, I was excited to show my passion and talent. Since arriving at Diodes, I have been placed within a team of engineers whom I know will support the development of said skills. Alongside my fellow engineers, I do not have to face the complexities of the industry alone, and problems are met with more than one set of eyes. I am proud to work for Diodes and be part of a team and company that is eagerly making strides in engineering.

However, I did not always anticipate a career in process engineering. Early in my life, I aspired to be a teacher, which I now see stemmed from teaching being so prominent in my life with close family members working within this profession. As I progressed through my education, I picked up a knack for chemistry and mathematics. Thinking more of what attracted me further into science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM), I realized that I enjoyed the problem-solving aspects and methodical processes the most—tenets of engineering. Interested, I considered how I would fit into a STEM environment and what would it take to become an engineer.

- What skills do STEM careers require?

  • To be able to identify how a problem presents itself and how to solve it, one needs critical thinking and analytical skills. Application is key. Knowing the fundamentals of your field is obviously required, however what sets you apart from the rest is how you use this knowledge and apply it to situations you are presented with throughout your career.

- What would working in a STEM career be like?

  • STEM careers are incredibly varied, working in offices, labs, and/or factories. They can be team members, leaders and individual contributors. For me, I spend time both at my desk and in front of machinery within the fabrication area working both with other engineers and independently. To be able to work within the STEM field, I needed to be able to adapt to these different environments and people.

- What was my drive?

  • Something must be driving an engineer personally to overcome the high barrier of entry, workload, and technical know-how. Motivations like passion, the affinity for always striving to better yourself, and a good work ethic are all aspects to overcome the mental challenges faced in a STEM career. In life, it’s always said that comfort is key however, when working within STEM a great engineer will take steps outside their comfort zone to ensure continuous improvement within their role.

- What does “engineering” mean to me?

  • Engineering to me, is a mentality. A mental capability in which one can be faced with a problem and not only search for the solution but search for all the answers. Why and how did this happen? How can I stop this from happening again? How can this be improved for future use? The curiosity of engineers' minds allow for this to become second nature and successfully applied within the workplace.

Though I didn’t always know it, my aptitude and love for critical thinking and problem solving was perfect for engineering. The detective-like mindset required in engineering combined with its importance in today’s industrial world has made me even more enthused about my professional life. From analyzing the tiniest details in data to looking at how the finished product can affect our whole society, I take immense pride in my role as an engineer.

Although my decision to study engineering was not obvious from the start, the incredible guidance from my high school teachers helped me find my foundations in the field. Seeing how hard they supported me in my professional journey also further inspired me to strive for that same work ethic and commitment. Like my teachers before me, I hope to set an example amongst prospective engineers—from young academics finding their foundations to more female engineers paving the way for a more diverse body in engineering.

I look forward to spending more time here at Diodes and seeing what is in store for my future. With my drive for analytical thinking, the assistance of my team members, and the multitude of tools available for my use at Diodes, I know that the career path ahead of me is bright and fulfilling.