A degree in physics – particularly if it’s paired with maths – will open up far more doors than you can imagine.

A degree in physics – particularly if it’s paired with maths – will open up far more doors than you can imagine.

Dr. Marguerite Hughes

Process Engineer at Intel

What exactly does a process engineer do?

I enable the smooth operation of process tools in a manufacturing environment. That means, I troubleshoot problems and develop new ways of looking at tool output data so we can make the best decisions on how to run the tools. There's always a new problem to solve and we are always being driven to improve the quality of the work we do. 

What’s the most exciting thing happening in your industry right now?

We’re developing faster and better electronic devices that can exploit the amazing and different ways materials behave at the nanometre scale. When you get down to the nanoscale lots of things change. Not only does gold turn red if you look at a small enough amount if it, carbon – which we think of as grey or black – comes in all the colours of the rainbow, and these colours can represent very different electronic properties.

Not only does gold turn red if you look at a small enough amount if it, carbon comes in all the colours of the rainbow.

Why did you decide to become an engineer?

Following my PhD, didn't feel the career path of a researcher or lecturer was right for me. Several of my co-workers had moved to Intel and spoke very positively of the experience so I applied for the position of graduate process engineer. One year later, I am travelling to the USA with work to train on new process technologies, so I think I made a good choice!

Which scientist has inspired you most?

John Bardeen. He has never received the same acclaim as, say, Einstein, but he remains the only person to have won two Nobel prizes in physics. One of those was for the development of the transistor, which shaped modern computing and had a profound effect on the way we live now.

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