We ask Intel engineers Tony Hepburn and Kenny Mcnamee to talk about their professional life – their mentors, details of current projects and so on.

Tony Hepburn

Born in Glasgow, a port city on the River Clyde in Scotland, Tony Hepburn achieved a BSc in natural philosophy (Glasgow), a MSc in physics of amorphous semiconductors (Dundee), and further a PhD in amorphous silicon transistors (Dundee).

He completed a research assistantship in University College Swansea and then became a tenured lecturer in electronic materials. From Swansea he went to join National Semiconductor in Greenock as a yield engineer, working on a 2.5um LMDMOS process prior to joining Intel 25 years ago.

What inspired you to decide to become an engineer?

I was always interested in how things worked and had great science teachers in school that further inspired me to pursue a career in technology.

Can you tell us about what is involved in being senior principal engineer?

My role is very varied with focus on developing new projects differently, looking for opportunities to improve our processes and increasing efficiency.

Are there any interesting projects/technologies that you are currently working on?

Currently I am the transfer manager responsible for bringing in Intel’s first Foundry technology to our campus in Ireland. One of the interesting aspects of this technology is that it will supply customers outside Intel and will gives the opportunity to interact and collaborate directly with customers.

Some of the most interesting and progressive work I perform is Foundry Technology technical assessments to support customer requirements. Questioning and finding solutions to possible challenges that might arise from their requirements.

Who or what was your greatest influence?

A few people have inspired me, one being Jimmy Johnston, Winger for Glasgow Celtic. I really admired his talent as an athlete and wanted to be like him; sadly, I only had the red curly hair, everything else was missing.

My dad. He taught me to play football and golf, introduced me to technology (we had an original Apple computer in the house) and he taught me how to type business letters – write them out with all the swear words included and then delete the swear words prior to sending!

Professionally, my first manager in Intel who also acted as a key mentor for me; more mentor than manager really.

What skills do you need to become a good engineer?

Technical depth is the core building block. Data Extraction/Analysis/Visualisation skills to enable you to get the information to do your technical assessments. Critical thinking skills to ensure you assess your data correctly and not just frame it within the story that you want to tell.

What can be done to encourage more people, and in particular young girls, to explore careers in engineering?

Engineering needs to be made more accessible, to be de-mystified and made consistent with a good work/life balance. We need visible role models – people that can show it can be done, and then the mentees should continue to pay it forward, also sharing their experiences to inspire others.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

Discovery. Doing the work which enables you to understand and fix a problem or to create something that did not exist before.

An interesting/fun fact about you, a hobby/interest or talent outside of engineering?

I like to do work to support my community – I have taught baseball in the United States (despite not knowing anything about it – got schooled by an eight-year-old on the rules), I have coached soccer teams in various geographies, I have ran committees in my local church, I have ran residents' associations.

Despite being unable to dance I ran the Scottish Country Dance Society at University in Dundee. While being fire officer for the clean room at Swansea university, I oversaw a fire which destroyed the place! My favourite place is St Andrews in Scotland – combination of the golf, the beach and the town. My favourite Brewer is Brewdog. Favourite Football team – the famous Glasgow Celtic.

Kenny Mcnamee

Born in the historical town of Coatbridge, in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, Kenny Mcnamee graduated in 1991 from the University of Glasgow with a bachelor's degree in electrical and electronic engineering.

He has been working at Intel for 18 years and has been recently promoted to principal engineer, a technical leader for the organisation. He leads a variety of teams through key projects while developing the technical expertise and leadership skills of our next generation of engineers.

What inspired you to decide to become an engineer?

My physics teacher at secondary school. She made the laws of physics come alive in many great class experiments.

What are your main responsibilities? Any interesting projects/technologies you are currently working on?

Currently working in front end process integration, product performance and technology transfers. I’m focused on enabling a successful Intel 4 technology transfer, start-up and ramp here in Ireland.

Who or what was your greatest influence?

In my first engineering job I was trained by an equipment engineer whose depth of technical expertise and problem-solving skills just amazed me. However, this was surpassed by his ability to patiently teach and empower me to solve highly complex problems with extremely innovative solutions. He was both brilliant and humble – a combination I have strived to achieve in my 30-year career in engineering.

What skills do you need to become a good engineer?

Develop critical thinking and structured problem-solving skills. Have a very strong technical depth in an engineering area that you are passionate for, and continuously focus on improving your ability to lead and work with teams.

What can be done to encourage more people, and in particular young girls, to explore careers in engineering?

Burst all myths around engineering careers during school years, even at primary school level. Highlight and promote the innovative female role models in the industry. Companies need to do more to promote the work/life balance of an engineering career that will span over many decades of your life with skillsets that will be in increasingly high demand for many years to come.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

No two days are ever the same!

An interesting/fun fact about you, a hobby/interest or talent outside of engineering?

One of my most rewarding interests was helping to run a weekly club for children with special needs for 10 years in my hometown in Scotland. It was a fantastic privilege and certainly taught me some great teamwork and leadership skills. And how to dance and sing badly and have fun without a care in the world (at least for a couple of hours a week!)