Updated: Jun 19, 2018
Hi, my name is Bongi and I am a test engineer (name will probably change within the company to the likes of system performance engineer or sorts later this year) at a company called ASML which is in the semiconductor lithography system industry. In simple terms, we build and qualify the machines that make the micro-chips that are in your phones, laptops etc.
I work in a 5-shift schedule, so 6 days working (two mornings, two afternoons and two nights) followed by four days off. The shift cycle is regardless of weekends and repeats systematically, with the exception of public holidays. The work does not change per shift so I will base my day on a typical morning shift.
0530 – I wake up and get ready for work, so getting dressed and having breakfast.
0620 – I catch the bus which takes about 20min to work, since we have to arrive around 0645 to be in time for the shift transfer at 0700. I work in a cleanroom so a few extra minutes are required for the ‘gowning’ process and getting to our work area on time.
0705 – I am sitting at my workplace, having done the shift transfer (unless it takes longer) and now doing some mandatory administration that needs to be done before starting my work. The next hour or so is spent (continuing) fixing any problems that the previous shift had or contacting the necessary departments for additional assistance or regarding other issues, which usually could not be done by the previous shift since it was during the night such as ordering parts to be swapped for the machine etc. If everything was running smoothly, then I just continue with the testing. This testing is basically following predefined tests outlined in a sequence, using the provided instructions on how to perform each test on the machine.
09:00 - At this time, my colleagues and I usually go for a break (outside the cleanroom). Usually during the breaks we eat, chat, and play foosball (table football). It is very relaxed in the breakout room.
10:00 After the break, I usually go to the cabin, to conduct a mandatory check to ensure it is organized and everything looks okay i.e. no tools lying everywhere, all doors, panels and cabinets are closed for and on the machine, there are no scratches on the panels etc. The cabin is where the actual machine is housed. We work at a remote area of the cleanroom and only sometimes in the cabin, when some troubleshooting is required or manual actions need to be undertaken on the machine, that are part of the tests.
13:00 Around this time, I go for my lunch break. We have two breaks every day, both last approximately for an hour each depending on your personal work load.
14:00 Usually, in this last hour before the shift ends, I ensure that everything is clear and in order for the shift transfer to the next tester and update the team leader on the progress of my shift and what the next shift will continue doing. Usually, the team leader also comes around once or twice during the shift to check on progress, however, we work independently, of course with direct colleagues if you need assistance on an issue or contacting the relevant departments for other issues.
15:00 – Finally, time to go home! Shift transfer to the next tester. Once your shift is done that is it for the day. I really like this because we never take any work home, not even emails. When you leave work, it is really your own free time.
16:00 – By this time, I am already home and probably preparing to go to the gym or do whatever after work activity I have planned. Usually, I plan activities such as going out with friends during my four days off or in between the shift changes from morning to afternoon or afternoon to night since I have 24 hours in between these shifts. It is a really flexible way of working and although there are few inconveniences, the free time and flexibility make up for it more than enough.
22:00 - I am usually relaxing (watching Netflix mostly) up to this time when I then go to bed since if I have to get up early the next morning. If it was the last morning shift then of course I can go out/stay up late, depending on what my plans are.
About the author
I went to high school at Watershed College, then I did my BSc(Hons) at Inholland University of Applied Sciences in Delft, Netherlands. I have always had a passion
for aviation, hence why I did my degree in Aeronautical Engineering. I was particularly interested in the testing aspect of aircraft. However, after doing my graduate internship at Airbus, I realised that the aviation industry has slowed down quite a bit in terms of aviation in recent years. It is also an industry that is very strictly guided by norms and guidelines which means there is little 'wiggle' room for individual and/or group creativity. The high tech industry was new to me but once I realised how fast-paced the design and innovation is and how much employers encourage their employees to be innovative, I was captivated. Above all, there is always a new challenge because of the constant developments. I would like to develop myself further in the field of robotics and mechatronics, as I aspire to one day bring to the table a valuable tech innovation to the growing Zimbabwean industry. My mottos are work hard, play hard but also build now, relax later. That being said I focus on myself (fitness, fun and FOOD) just as much as I work; there has to be a balance!
If you'd like to find out more, get in touch with Bongi on LinkedIn
© Images are property of ASML Netherlands B.V