How This Principal Engineer Is Still Excited About Work after 34 Years at Intel

When Nik Zurin returned to Malaysia after graduating from the University of Tennessee in 1987, he saw a recruitment advertisement for Intel. He immediately jumped at the opportunity and found himself working at Intel after two rounds of interviews. Today, after 34 years in the organization, Nik is currently a chief data engineer at Intel’s Assembly and Test Manufacturing (ATM) group in Penang.

Nik leads the team looking after process control in manufacturing, where they assemble, package and test Intel chips before sending them to the customers. These include huge volume of products every week, from CPU processors for laptops to server products for data service workstations. They work on generating information and insights from data collected from the factory, helping the organization make key decisions.

What drew Nik to this role? “I love looking at data. I try to look for patterns in data that tell me certain things that usually tend to go unnoticed. Essentially, that’s a big part of my work. I use day-to-day examples of data analysis to help my team implement standards and solutions in the factory.”

A Career of Steady Progress at Intel

When asked about his professional evolution at Intel, Nik divides the journey into three parts, calling it a trilogy of his career. During his initial years–the first period–Nik worked as an engineer, acquiring knowledge from a technical standpoint. In the process of getting trained by some of the best experts in the field, he spent one and a half years in Arizona learning fundamentals of engineering in manufacturing. The second phase began when Nik returned from the U.S. and was assigned to manage a team of 70 people within the manufacturing group. Using his experience of almost a decade, he spent time coaching and mentoring engineers in their careers.

The third phase started with him working in the U.S. as an individual contributor once again, in the research and development (R&D) department, to develop his strong passion for process control. There, Nik was introduced to the domain of data analytics and higher levels of statistics application. He began to focus on critical solutions needed for Process Control Systems in ATM and became a principal engineer in the field. Currently, he works as a chief data engineer and leads the ATLAS (AT Data Intelligence and Solutions) group, which drives a coordinated and concerted effort on data for Intel ATM.

What is the ATM Group?

The ATM group is essentially part of the manufacturing and supply chain at Intel. They take the base technology developed by the Assembly/Test Technology Development and ramp it to produce higher volumes and yields. After assembling and packaging the silicon, the ATM group systematically conducts tests to ensure the product is functional and to check if it meets all the quality requirements. The product is sent to the customer only after the ATM process flow is completed using state-of-the-art technology. “It’s about going through every aspect of the process and really making sure the product comes out perfectly. We need to be sure about meeting the quality requirements even if it means taking a hit in throughput. It’s a very delicate balance. And that’s why I think it’s really cool to be a part of the ATM group,” adds Nik.

A Path for Success in the ATM Group

With the ATM group evolving rapidly, there is a lot of opportunity for people who recently graduated. Nik notes that their fresh perspectives and thoughts can help push the limits in manufacturing, a field that is quickly moving up the value chain. In the last five to six years, the demand for data analysis has grown exponentially, helping the organization make decisions based on data collected from the factory. The group is systematically finding ways to mine, extract, analyse and visualize data at an accelerated pace to enable insights and make important (and reliable) decisions for the factory. There is an increased focus and emphasis on statistics and mathematics. Adding on to that, Nik says, “With the changes in school and university curriculum now, the students can be better equipped in data science, AI, coding and applying statistical analysis to draw conclusions. It would be an added bonus for students who have pre-acquired some of that knowledge, helping them to progress much faster in the ATM group.”

The Intel Way Forward

The fact that the work done by Nik and his team will make a difference in the coming years is a strong impetus for him. While advancement and growth are important, he says that it is not all about the big career jumps—it is the work that ultimately matters. Being involved with leading-edge technology in a visionary organization like Intel keeps Nik motivated and driven toward a bright, promising future in the ATM group.

After 34 wonderful years with Intel, it is only the beginning for Nik Zurin.

Interested in an exciting career opportunity with Intel’s ATM group at Intel Malaysia? Find out all you need to know here.

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