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Multidisciplinary: Engineer Finds that Biology + Technology = AI

Feb 2, 2023 3 min read

KLA Korea’s Youjung Seo has worked only five months as an artificial intelligence (AI) support engineer, but she already sees the potential for AI to help make the world a better place. Although Youjung has a master’s degree in computer science focused on machine learning technologies, her focus as an undergraduate was very different.

“My bachelor’s degree was in psychology focused on neuroscience. I enjoyed studying the brain and decision-making mechanisms. That is how I was exposed to AI, which is founded on human optic recognition concepts. I find the intersection of biology and technology fascinating.”

Youjung Seo, artificial intelligence support engineer, KLA Korea

Indispensable Technology

Youjung works in the ICOS division of KLA’s electronics, packaging and components (EPC) group, which develops market-leading component inspection, die sorting and other packaging solutions used by global chip makers to improve yields in the wafer-level packaging process and perform critical quality control on finished packaged components.

As part of the ICOS global support team, Youjung works with KLA’s customers to optimize their semiconductor packaging inspection strategy, helping to maximize their quality and yields. KLA’s component inspection systems measure key parameters and detect small defect types such as foreign materials or cracks on packaged chips. The systems utilize AI technology to deliver smarter binning of defect types, providing feedback to accurately classify them as pass or reject. Prior to the implementation of AI technology in component inspection, viable chips may have been rejected, causing unnecessary waste and reduced yields.

“Our team works on advanced metrology and inspection solutions to help packaging manufacturers make the most of limited resources by salvaging these incorrectly rejected ‘overkill’ chips,” she says. “I enjoy helping customers by developing robust deep-learning models for their KLA equipment that optimize their yields by reducing unnecessary rejection, making our technology indispensable in decreasing waste.”

With a focus on continuous improvement, Youjung is also exploring new AI inspection technologies and algorithms for other projects that have great potential for other applications.

Working in an Empowering Culture

Youjung enjoys working on a team of colleagues from many countries and ethnicities who bring together diversity of people and ideas. In addition to collaborating with a dynamic, customer service-focused team of engineers, what she likes most about her role is the flexible, trusting work environment.

“My manager – who works in Belgium – gives me considerable autonomy and lets me manage my work,” she explains. “I plan my own schedule, prioritizing customer site visits each week, and work from home or the office the rest of the time. Giving employees this kind of responsibility and empowerment really drives a positive work environment and personal satisfaction.”

Youjung is also impressed by KLA’s respectful, inclusive culture as she interacts with senior leaders and coworkers.

“I’ve found that everyone is thoughtful, and my opinions are valued, even as a new employee,” she says. “Cultivating this deep respect for each other benefits our team, KLA and our customers.”

Forming a Global Perspective

Youjung lived in Shanghai while growing up and attended an American international school. While there, she met people from all over the world, which really helped form her global outlook.

“I learned to be outgoing and to feel comfortable speaking with anyone,” she says. “I also learned English, which is a great asset at a global company like KLA.”

Youjung also speaks Chinese and Korean, which is useful when coworkers need translation. In the future she hopes to work for KLA in other parts of the world and learn more about other cultures.

When not working, Youjung enjoys mountain climbing and Pilates, a mind-body exercise. She also enjoys good food and drinking her favorite beverage, beer.

Be sure to catch up on our previous employee spotlights in our Opportunity Ahead, Making the World a Better Place and Inclusion for All series, and don’t forget to browse the KLA careers page for the opportunities ahead.

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