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Archive for September 27th, 2010

Excitement in Electronics

Monday, September 27th, 2010

The year was 1972; I had just graduated from High School.  It was decided that I should be working…I was not sure what I was supposed to do for work.  I picked up a newspaper and there was a big article that National Semiconductor was hiring.  I decided to get a job there.  I was not sure what they did but they were hiring, I needed a job so it seemed like a fit to me. 

I went into the lobby of the main building (at that time there was only 3) and asked for a job application.  The receptionist gave me one and I sat down in the chair to fill it out.  There were lots of people coming and going through the lobby.  One gentleman came up to me and asked me what I was doing.  I answered, “Filling out an application for a job”.  He asked me why, I said, “to get a job” (thinking this was a trick question).   He looked puzzled and said, “Why, you already work here”!  I assured him that I did not but I wanted to.  He smiled and said, “Well, your twin works here then, come with me” he continued, “you just got yourself a job”.

That is how I got into Electronics.

On my first day on the job my boss introduced me to the girl that he thought looked so much like me.  She had long straight hair (we all did back then), was my size and build but she was much prettier than me.  I was very grateful that she worked there and I thanked her for helping me to get my first job.  Needless to say we were fast friends and like most twins, inseparable.

I worked at National Semiconductor for 8 years.  National Semiconductor was great about education.  They sent me to Electrical Engineering classes; I was the only girl there.  My bosses wanted me to be an engineer.  The best part was that most of the classes were held right there on their premises.  I could take college classes at work and get college credits and paid for it at the same time.  I loved the classes because they were well organized, well taught and I could usually relate them back to the work I was doing…so it made it very interesting.

When I first started at National I worked in the test area on swing shift and ran a TAC tester.  The goal was to get as many units tested as possible…oh, a goal.  Cool, I can do that!  Each night I tested more units than the night before.  I streamlined the input and output of the machine so that I never let the machine stop.  I organized the paperwork so that it was completed as the parts were being tested.  I learned how to fix my machine so that I did not need to wait for maintenance if my machine went down.  I did preventive maintenance on my machine so that it was working better than any of the other machines on the line.  Everyone hated me; I kept increasing their quotas because I could do more.  Soon I was made lead of the area and I taught everyone else to be more productive.

National was a wonderful place to work.  Each time, I got bored or wanted to learn something new, there was always that opportunity.  After a while I did not have to petition for jobs, I had managers coming to me to ask me to help with a new department, organize a production flow or train others to be more effective.  I worked in Masking, Diffusion, Design, Engineering, and Mask Making and got to be an expeditor, which was fabulous…, it matched my personality…a runner!  As an expeditor, I needed to produce a new product (for example: the very first Ladies LED watch was made by me and I still have it in my jewelry box), fast and without a production line.  So I needed to come up with the flow to produce the item, get time on different lines so that I could do the work and not interrupt their production flow…while at the same time making my schedule.  I met with the product line managers, made a deal with them to use their machines and a time schedule as to when I would need them…and made it all fit my product schedule.  Then I ran from one production line to another to meet or exceed my target…I loved it.

The other memorable position that I had was offered to me by Pierre Lamond.  Pierre was the Executive VP of R&D at the time.  He had heard about me and was pulling together a team of people to open up the “Bubble Memory” production line.  He asked me if I wanted to join.  I said YES, of course!

I had no idea what to expect.  I left my current job and department without question and on Monday morning went to HR to find out where I should report.  They told me the room number.  I thought it was odd because I knew this building very well and the room number she had given me was an empty part of the building.  When I arrived…I was right, it was empty.  The team that was assembled started to arrive and then Pierre came in.  He said that he had chosen us to build the line from the floor up and he meant it literally.  We were in a room with no walls.  We drew up the plans for the production line, met with vendors to get the right equipment, worked with the plumbers, electricians etc to build out the space as per our specifications.  When needed we went to Sears to buy tools, pipe whatever to keep the project on schedule.  Then one day we were able to run our first wafer through the line…it was really an exciting time.

S2C: FPGA Base prototyping- Download white paper

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