As a technology leader at Intel, Megan Beck was recently recognized by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) with an award only adding to an aspirational career. As woman in tech, Megan spoke with us regarding her SWE honor, shared insights and gave advice to those looking to follow in her footsteps.
Megan, tell us about the award and what you did to receive this wonderful recognition?
The Rising Technical Contributor Award honors a Society of Women Engineers member with less than five years of cumulative engineering experience who has been actively engaged in the STEM field and has contributed to technical work resulting in significant breakthroughs or results. I am being recognized for significant technical contributions to microprocessor manufacturing technology; for creative thinking that sparks innovative solutions; and for dedication to empowering women in engineering and technology through SWE.
From my academic work, I have co-authored numerous publications, hold two U.S. patents, and have two additional patent applications. I was awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship in 2015 and won the Gold Graduate Student Award at the 2018 Materials Research Society meeting.
From my work at Intel as an integration engineer, I have led interdisciplinary teams to develop strategies for the front-end transistor fabrication process for Intel 4 and Intel 3. I have received four Logic Technology Development Divisional Recognition Awards for implementing yield and performance improvement projects, one of which enabled Intel to file for a U.S. patent.
Did you always know you wanted to work in technology? How did you decide to go into your field?
I was always interested in math and science and became fascinated by the field of materials science and engineering in high school because it combined chemistry, physics and material properties with an emphasis on engineering for real-world problems. During my undergraduate studies at Boise State University, I had my first experiences with the academic research process and was determined to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering with a focus in nanotechnology. At Northwestern University, I designed fabrication methods to study electronic devices from atomically thin materials and gained a skill set that enabled me to join intel and contribute to transistor manufacturing technology development.
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
Lack of representation is the reason that organizations like SWE, which is open to all people in STEM disciplines, exists. There are many systemic structures in the workplace, including the broken rung within the leadership pipeline, which are barriers to reaching a world with gender parity and equality in engineering and technology. The State of Women in Engineering, published yearly by SWE magazine, is an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning more.
Is there a female technologist you admire who has influenced your career journey and choices?
My undergraduate academic and research advisor at Boise State University, Professor Megan Frary, was my first role model in engineering. She introduced me to the academic research process and encouraged me to continue my studies in a graduate program. At Intel, I have a cohort of women within technology development that I meet with monthly. Each of them has given advice, been supportive or encouraged me in my career. Additionally, every time I attend the annual SWE conference, I am amazed and empowered by stories of drive and resilience that I get to hear from fellow women in STEM.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
My first piece of advice is to be intentional about building your community of fellow women in STEM. Find allies who will speak positively on your behalf when you are not in the room, who will push against barriers within the workplace, and who will help to lift you up within the organization. Secondly, be intentional about being yourself. Our world needs diverse perspectives, experiences and expertise in the workplace to be able to effectively solve the next set of problems, so be your authentic self.
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