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At Work with the Kids for a Day at KLA Ann Arbor

May 4, 2023 3 min read

For dozens of diverse employees at KLA Ann Arbor, taking the children in their lives to work for a day was not only an opportunity to show them a good time – it also helped the kids learn firsthand about high-tech careers in a place where much of the innovation begins for the global semiconductor industry. Learn what employees had to say below.

“We’re proud of the work we do and are passionate about the technology we develop to change the world. For employees, it’s really powerful to share what we do with our families, and it’s rewarding for kids to expand their horizons and help them look toward the future.”

John McLaughlin, site lead, KLA Ann Arbor
Clockwise from top left, Natalie Ahr and her dad Brian join others to play “Spot the Defect” by looking for flaws in microscopic photos of wafers; Anaya, daughter of Aparna sahebrao Patil, tries on a cleanroom bunny suit; and Jason Lerch, mechanical engineering group and vacuum program manager, introduces high school students to one of the Ann Arbor site’s labs.

KLA Ann Arbor software engineer Aparna sahebrao Patil remembers visiting her father’s workplace as a child and wanted to recreate that memory and bonding with her own daughter, Anaya, by taking her to the event. Anaya, who is interested in a STEM career, was amazed to learn how tiny circuits are designed on bare wafers and used on products like cellphones.

“She enjoyed feeling like an astronaut by dressing up in bunny suits and was curious to know why engineers must wear those kinds of suits inside a cleanroom,” Aparna says. “After spending the day at KLA, she thinks a STEM career can be interesting. She feels it could be like solving a puzzle.”

Building Flying Machines and More

A popular activity for middle school students was an egg drop. The kids made parachutes and other devices, then tested their ability to land the egg intact from a 20-foot walkway outside the building. 

“Supplies and time to design and build an egg shelter were intentionally limited, so they had to be resourceful in how they applied their limited resources for their shelter,” explains Bryan Geha, director, global supply chain. “Once the egg shelters were built and the eggs started dropping, it was clear that many of their designs offered significant air resistance because they allowed for a soft landing.”

Adds site operations admin Harmony Cook, ” My daughter Delaney enjoyed the egg drop activity as well as visiting the cybersecurity operations lab and walking the beautiful nature trails. At the end of the day, she said ‘Mom, your work and building are so amazing!’ and I could not agree more! I’m thankful that KLA provides employees with opportunities to share our work with our children.”

Middle school students build devices for an egg drop outside the building. Pictured from upper left: Jameta Branch and son, Christian; Niharika Singh (center), daughter of Vidya Ramanathan; and Delaney Cook (below, left), daughter of Harmony Cook, who poses outside KLA’s ultramodern Ann Arbor facility before participating in the egg drop.

Jameta Branch, internal audit manager, wanted to show her son Christian the new Ann Arbor offices and give him insight on what KLA does.  She says Christian loves math but doesn’t quite know how that would translate into a career for him just yet.

“Christian enjoyed the egg drop – he said it was cool coming up with a concept to protect the egg,” Jameta says. “He said it was funny hearing the egg smash even though people thought their eggs were protected.”

Playing Ping-Pong and Just Hanging Out

After challenging their dad to a table tennis match, Katelyn and Madison also applied their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at their middle school to the egg drop.

“They take STEM-related classes, and the egg drop was great because they love building things and being creative,” says dad Rob Bentz, an information systems analyst. “Both were excited to come here and learn what KLA does.”

At left, Rob Bentz enjoys a serious game of table tennis with daughters Katelyn (left) and Madison. Pictured at upper right, Andrew McAlpine with daughter Emma; Cyrus and his mom, Sarah Nelson; and Becky Chefan. Bottom, Alyson White and her nephew Ethan take a break from the day’s activities.

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