We kick off our EELife series—which features the lighter side of the electronics industry by focusing on the life of being an engineer—with STMicroelectronics’ Device Section Manager Teh Xiao Min.
Teh Xiao Min is the device section manager at STMicroelectronics in Singapore. She joined the company in 2002, the same year she graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with a degree of Bachelor of Applied Science.
At ST, Xiao Min works on improving various manufacturing performance indicators, such as Wafer FAB Yield (WFY) improvement through scrap analysis and Parametric & EWS testing.
“I drive the team on corrective and preventive actions to reduce scraps and improve the WFY PPM [parts per million],” Xiao Min says. She also works on parametric NCL (non-conformance lot) reduction to improve lot-on-hold (LOH) and cycle time, and to provide quick feedback to Process Engineering/FAB for any potential issue or excursion.
Apart from her daily responsibilities, Xiao Min also chairs the iCRB (Internal Change Request Board Review) for Process Change List Management, as well as participates in in new product introduction and industrialization activities.
One of the many things Xiao Min likes about her job is that she doesn’t need to work on shifting schedule, thereby giving her a work-life balance. “I can enjoy weekends with my family,” she says.
When it comes to work, she finds job satisfaction when they “successfully find out the root cause of a problem and manage to implement a new solution and see the ultimate gain at Parametric and EWS testing.”
Apart from that, carrying out new product qualification from the beginning to mass production, with stable yield and output, is also a big satisfaction for Xiao Min. “It is like nurturing a baby from new-born to adulthood,” she says.
But that’s not to say she likes every little thing about her job. For example, she notes that applying technical skills is not her forte. Another challenge is always needing to use facts and data to convince others in the line that there is an issue with the machine or process.
Tips and tricks
Over the course of here two-decade career at ST, there are things that Xiao Min lives by to make her job easier.
“I always believe that sharing is caring. Through coaching and mentoring the young engineers, we build the trust with them,” she says. “Plan, organize, and prioritize. Be systematic. Make a to-do list with detailed plans and organise them according to priorities. Set a reasonable timeline to complete your tasks.”
Dealing with the pandemic
When the pandemic hit every market worldwide, most employees—except those in the “essentials” business—started working from home.
“Working from home is a new experience—it is my first time in the past 20 years of working life in ST,” says Xiao Min.
One challenge they encountered during the pandemic, meanwhile, was the global substrate supply as well as chemical shortages. “We had to find workaround solutions to maintain the supply chain,” she notes.
Regarding her career progression, Xiao Min says doing transversal projects in the Device team with the involvement from other departments, for example, cost-saving projects that involve process simplification and rationalisation, is a great opportunity for professional development as it involves a lot of coordination and communication, such as following up on status, timeline, and blocking points, to name a few.
But she says she did not imagine that one day, she will become an engineer. “When I graduated from NUS, I submitted a few resumes to find a job,” Xiao Min explains. “The first job offer I received was from ST for a Device Engineering position. I have been working here since then. Engineering courses are fun and exciting. It is a broad subject that encompasses many specific fields. You can choose your own area of interest.”
Stephen Las Marias is the editor of EETimes Asia. He may be reached at email@example.com.