The life of a process engineer: Meet Morven Duffy

Morven Duffy holds a BSc in applied physics from Dublin City University (DCU) and has been working at Intel for 23 years where she has been employed as a process engineer.

Morven Duffy, process engineer, Intel Ireland

What inspired you to decide to become an engineer?

My dad and grandad were my biggest inspirations. Grandad built fishing trawlers for a living and dad was in IT systems design for the civil service before anybody really knew what IT was.

He had a laptop back in the late 1980s, which looked something like this below:

I’ve ended up somewhere in the middle of the very practical ‘building things’ of my grandad, and the pure software side my dad was in.

I chose to study physics at DCU. I did a work placement in Intel between the third and fourth year of college, returned after I graduated, and have been here since!

Can you tell us about what is involved in being a process engineer?

We make sure our step of the manufacturing line:

  • Does what it is supposed to do;
  • Does it at a reasonable cost;
  • Does it at a reasonable speed;
  • Does it all the time (24×7 factory);
  • Does it in a quality manner.

It’s a very complex job role, as we basically own everything about our machines. We interact, in some way, with every other department on site. You must understand a little bit about accounting, logistics, materials, finance, software and so on. Every day is different!

What are your main responsibilities?

As I’ve been around for a while now, I am responsible for the training and development of the newer engineers in my group. I’m the senior engineer in my tool set group, so whenever there are strange things happening, I’ll be involved in the troubleshooting, often just to guide the others on the best way to approach things.

If there is a new system or capability coming into the area, I may be asked to lead the implementation. I do not have to do the tool owner role described in the previous question every day, but I have to be able to cover for anybody else in the group.

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

We are transferring the newest process technology from the development site in Oregon to our factory in Leixlip this year. I am traveling between Oregon and Ireland regularly to pick up everything we need to get my new machines up and running in Leixlip.

Who or what was your greatest influence?

I’m not sure, I think there was a lot of luck involved in me ending up in a job that suits me so well. I should give a shout out to the person who was my buddy when I did my work placement – Joe English, who’s now one of our factory managers in Leixlip. He made sure I got to see the full scope of the engineering job role in the six months of placement, so I knew how interesting it could be. Not everybody was willing to give that much time and attention to a lowly student.

What skills do you need to become a good engineer?

Curiosity! Good team-working abilities, and you do need to be competent at maths.

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

My secondary school made all students, regardless of gender, do a term of home economics and a term of either metalwork or woodwork in the first year. I’d like to see more mandatory hands-on classes in schools. I don’t think they should be in any way divided by gender.

And the aim should be to produce useful or interesting stuff early in the class term. I had a box of different types of wood joint hanging around my parents’ attic for years. Necessary training, for sure, but not exactly something you wanted to show your mates. We were super jealous of the metalwork folks with their keyrings.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

That it is different every day! I couldn’t do the same thing all the time.

Tell us about an interesting / fun fact about you, a hobby / interest or talent outside of engineering

I like metal music, I’ve surprised a few colleagues before when I bump into them at gigs! I’m very interested in Roman history, and a holiday isn’t complete until I’ve found some dusty old ruins to tramp around.

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