Exploring this Job
You can begin exploring this field by getting involved in science clubs and working on electronics projects at home. The Technology Student Association (TSA) provides students a chance to explore career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, enter academic competitions, and participate in summer exploration programs. TSA administers a competition called The Tests of Engineering, Aptitude, Mathematics, and Science (https://www.tsaweb.org/TEAMS) that allows middle school and high school students to demonstrate their technology skills.
Any part-time experience repairing electronic equipment will give you exposure to the basics of electronics.
You can find many resources for electronics experiments and projects in your school or local library or on the Internet. Summer employment in any type of electronics will be useful. Talking with someone who works in the field may help you narrow your focus to one particular area of electronics.
Microelectronics technicians typically assist in the development of prototypes, or new kinds, of electronic components and products. They work closely with electronics engineers, who design the components, build and test them, and prepare the component or product for large-scale manufacture. Such components usually require the integrated operation of several or many different types of chips.
Microelectronics technicians generally work from a schematic received from the design engineer. The schematic contains a list of the parts that will be needed to construct the component and the layout that the technician will follow. The technician gathers the parts and prepares the materials to be used. Following the schematic, the technician constructs the component and then uses a variety of sophisticated, highly sensitive equipment to test the component's performance. One such test measures the component's burn-in time. During this test the component is kept in continuous operation for a long period of time, and the component and its various features are subjected to a variety of tests to be certain the component will stand up to extended use.
If the component fails to function according to its required specifications, the microelectronics technician must be able to troubleshoot the design, locating where the component has failed, and replace one part for a new or different part. Test results are reported to the engineering staff, and the technician may be required to help in evaluating the results and preparing reports based on these evaluations. In many situations, the microelectronics technician will work closely with the engineer to solve any problems arising in the component's operation and design.
After the testing period, the microelectronics technician is often responsible for assisting in the technical writing of the component's specifications. These specifications are used for integrating the component into new or redesigned products or for developing the process for the component's large-scale manufacture. The microelectronics technician helps to develop the production system for the component and will also write reports on the component's functions, uses, and performance.
Microelectronics technicians perform many of the same functions of electronics technicians, but generally work only in the development laboratory. More experienced technicians may assume greater responsibilities. They work closely with the engineering staff to develop layout and assembly procedures and to use their own knowledge of microelectronics to suggest changes in circuitry or installation. Often they are depended upon to simplify the assembly or maintenance requirements. After making any changes, they test the performance of the component, analyze the results, and suggest and perform further modifications to the component's design. Technicians may fabricate new parts using various machine tools, supervise the installation of the new component, or become involved in training and supervising other technical personnel.
Some microelectronics technicians specialize in the fabrication and testing of semiconductors and integrated circuits. These technicians are usually called semiconductor development technicians. They are involved in the development of prototype chips, following the direction of engineering staff, and perform the various steps required for making and testing new integrated circuits.