Originally from Monaghan town, Co Monaghan, Anita Earley is a graduate of the University of Ulster and has a bachelor’s degree in engineering. She joined Intel in 1996 as a quality engineer, partnering closely with motherboard assembly suppliers. In 1999 she moved to Ireland Fab Operations (IFO) to embark on her career as an integration engineer. She has recently taken on a new role as the 14nm integration engineering manager.

Anita Earley, 14nm integration engineering manager, Intel

What inspired you to decide to become an engineer?

I attended an all-girls school and, at that time, a career in engineering wasn’t a typical conversation with the school’s career adviser. In saying that, I loved maths, physics, chemistry, and any subjects which related to problem solving, so engineering appeared (on paper) to be ticking a lot of my interests.

At the time of choosing my degree, my parents were my strongest influence – my dad has an extremely positive outlook and made me feel excited about an engineering career and all the possibilities that lay ahead and my mum diminished any concerns about entering a career where women were in the minority, as I come from a line of strong women (including my mum and my grandmother) who I witnessed being 'powerhouses' in their day-to-day lives.

So, I took a leap of faith and applied for engineering, part of which was a year’s placement in third year where I worked at Northern Telecom. This opportunity of getting out of the lecture hall and into the workplace, being a member of teams, resolving 'real' issues and tracking process improvements was a very important step in helping me identify as an engineer.

Can you tell us about what is involved in being an integration engineer?

Front-end integration engineering is responsible for the process flow which forms the transistors directly in the silicon. Back-end integration is the connection of those transistors to the outside world.

Therefore, the integration engineering role relates to the lateral ownership of the process, understanding the contribution of each of the operations in the flow and how they interact with each other to form a process segment.

Integration engineers are responsible for the associated quality, process changes and disposition of risk material for a given section of the process flow and, ultimately, own delivery of the key parametrics to meet process and product spec requirements.

What are your main responsibilities? 

The key responsibilities of an integration engineer are being a content expert of the technology process flow; leading process transfers; task forces to resolve signals; process changes; and risk material disposition.

The Ireland campus is extremely busy and it’s an exciting time, so it provides lots of scope for integration engineering including working on preparation for the new Intel 4 technology for Fab 34 – 14nm which is our current high-volume technology in Fab 24 – and also prep work ahead of some foundry services being offered from Ireland.

Who or what was your greatest influence?

Most definitely my parents. Neither of them came from an engineering background – but they both taught me the values that are key to having a successful career and working with others – ie to be respectful, kind and loyal and to help others where I can, and if things go wrong my dad's famous saying is, 'how can I work this to my advantage'; he was keen to teach us that there are always opportunities to learn – not only from the good times, but the bad times too.

What skills do you need to become a good engineer?

A passion for problem solving, critical thinking and perseverance (as some of these problems can take time). Teamwork and collaboration skills are also key. Integration engineers are dependent on working with others – so being able to listen to team members' viewpoints and align as partners to resolve
problems is imperative.

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

As with anything in life, or any goal you want to achieve, part of the motivation is to see others achieve that goal so you can then visualise yourself doing likewise.

In order to encourage young girls to explore careers in engineering, it must be part of the conversation from a young age; for example, in primary schools ensuring to reference the multitude of female engineers in the various engineering disciplines. By doing so, we can educate young girls that engineering is a wonderful long-term career. It is our responsibility to change the stereotype and narrative.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

Working with great people and the opportunity to continuously learn and develop technically. Part of the integration engineering role means you are working with lots of different people across various departments every day.

I am privileged to work with so many excellent engineers who have helped me develop my own technical depth by sharing their knowledge as we work to solve problems together, which is hugely rewarding.

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

I am a proud mum to my two teenage daughters. In my free time, I love going on walks and days out with my family. I also love music and attending live concerts.