Why Not Be the First?
Headshot of Priscilla Chan, field service engineer
Jun 23, 2023
  • Priscilla is the platform tool owner for Lam’s dielectric etch Sense.i tools
  • She brought her childhood passion for problem-solving to our customers’ chipmaking fabs

In celebration of International Women in Engineering Day, June 23, I sat down with Priscilla Chan, field service engineer in Lam Singapore, to talk about her career, her role in supporting the company’s customers, and her advice for young women entering engineering. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you get to where you are today?

Growing up, I was very hands-on and enjoyed building things like figurines and mechanical keyboards. I recall getting into trouble dismantling and assembling furniture and home appliances. (laughter)

At school, math, science, design, and tech intrigued me and I performed better in these subjects compared to the humanities. I enjoyed learning skills that can be applied to resolve everyday challenges and eventually decided to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering at Nanyang Technological University.

During my third year of university, I secured an internship in the aerospace industry and worked in roles supporting mechanical and design engineering, as well as supply chain planning. I graduated during COVID and opportunities in the aerospace industry were limited. My peers encouraged me to explore the semiconductor industry and after seeing an interesting and challenging field service role at Lam, I asked myself, “why not?”

What do you do at Lam?

When I joined Lam, I started off in tool installation and qualification, where I assembled and started up new tools for our customers. As I progressed, I started working in the fab, troubleshooting day-to-day challenges to improve our tools’ uptime and took part in the productivity team where I collaborated with engineers cross-functionally and cross-regionally.

Today, as the platform tool owner for Lam’s dielectric etch Sense.i®  tools, I work closely with the software and platform groups to troubleshoot robots, facilitate knowledge transfer, and drive solutions.

What challenges do you face in your role as a field service engineer?

Time is of the essence for our customers, and we are always racing to improve our tools’ uptime for production, liaising and collaborating with many teams to find solutions.

There are also some tasks which are more physically demanding for women, but as an engineer I can always improvise and turn to creative solutions to complete these tasks. (laughter)

What is the most rewarding part of your engineering career?

Since I was young, I have always enjoyed solving challenges and seeing my efforts yield results. It has been rewarding to see our robots up and running after troubleshooting chronic issues.

How has the company supported you in your career?

I have very supportive and encouraging managers and peers at work. Gender has never been an obstacle at work. My managers guide us to be well-rounded engineers, regardless of our gender.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to travel to the U.S. to complete an assignment at Lam’s headquarters in Fremont, California. The seven-week assignment provided me the chance to work with, engage, and learn from other teams to improve the Sense.i platform product. It was an extremely rewarding experience for me as I continue to grow and develop my career in engineering.

What do you think can be done to encourage more women to pursue engineering?

Mindset is important. If a woman has a goal that she wants to achieve, gender shouldn't be the obstacle that stops her from pursuing it. If no woman has done it before, why not be the first?

It’s also important for companies to build a diverse and inclusive culture that advocates for open communication and trust among their employees. This will not just attract women but all talent.

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