Filipina engineer Laura Clemente talks about her work, her challenges and her words of advice
The child of two engineering parents, Laura remembers seeing a brand-new scanning electron microscope at her mum’s work when she was just 10 years old and being totally in awe. “We were looking at an ant at 2000X magnification, and I was absolutely fascinated,” she says.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that with this kind of childhood Laura went on to build a successful engineering career of her own – but it hasn’t been without its challenges or roadblocks.
Laura attended the Philippine Science High School, which is affiliated with the Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology, and went on to study a degree in materials engineering. Now she works at Texas Instruments (TI), in Clark, Philippines. The American technology company manufactures the semiconductors and integrated circuits used in electronic devices like the smartphone you might be reading this on.
The complete package
In Laura’s role as an IC (Integrated Circuit) packaging engineer at TI, she helps come up with new ways to protect circuits, in order to make electronic devices perform better, faster and be more efficient.
“My job is mostly focused on understanding materials interactions, since these ICs contain so many combinations of polymers and metals, and are highly impacted by exposure to temperature, stress, and the environment in general,” she explains.
One project Laura is currently working on involves improving the power efficiency of electronic devices. “This in turn reduces our carbon footprint and contributes to efforts in saving the environment.”
Laura says this is an exciting space to be working in right now. “As the world gets more connected and smart devices are becoming more complex, the semiconductor/IC industry is expected to continue to grow. It gets more exciting as we try to pack in more complex features on smaller devices.”
Career challenges and words of advice
Despite her impressive science and engineering pedigree, Laura says she still found it challenging being young and a woman early on in her career, and it took some time for colleagues to take her seriously.
“TI has done a good job in improving diversity and inclusion in our workplace now, and I think it helps others, especially the younger engineers, to flourish in the work environment,” she says.
“Diversity is important because every single person, regardless of gender orientation or cultural upbringing, matters – they have their own potential and capability to come up with new innovations that could possibly change the world.”
Finally, Laura has these wise words for anyone, but particularly other young women, considering a career in STEM:
“First thing is to know yourself and your goals. A career in STEM is rarely easy, and there will always be new problems and challenges to be encountered. If you’re the type of person to back down when faced with hard problems that would really make you think, then you may want to reconsider. But, if you like all sorts of puzzles and challenges, then STEM is the right path for you. Keep yourself curious, read about all sorts of topics to expand your perspective, and never let anyone tell you that something’s impossible to do, unless you’ve tried more times than you’ve failed.”
Be right back – we’re printing that out and sticking it on our wall.
Author: Gemma Chilton
Gemma has a degree in journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney and spent a semester studying environmental journalism in Denmark. She has been writing about science and engineering for over a decade.