The Ultimate Optical Fiber
Breaking with Convention
Japan's Basic Industry
Today's Master Craftspeople
Skill of Master Craftspeople Underpins State-of-the-Art Technology
Training Skilled Workers
Having Trainees Craft Products Synonymous with Training Skilled People
|Today's Master Craftspeople|
|She enters the clean room fully clad in protective gear, consisting of a dust-proof suit, dust-proof mask, gloves and shoe covers. On a desk before her is a binocular microscope. With tweezers in both hands, she begins work staring into the microscope. From this moment, Saeko Konta enters the microscopic world. With micron-level accuracy, she mounts tiny components that cannot be distinguished with the naked eye.
Her boss, Masayuki Shikama, manager of the discrete semiconductor manufacturing section, assembly and manufacturing department, NEC Yamagata, Ltd., recalls: An engineer asked her to move [a component] 20 microns to the right when making a new product prototype. We were amazed by her skill when we later measured what she had adjusted by eyeshe had placed it spot-on! Konta is recipient of a fiscal 2001 commendation for outstanding skilled workers (Contemporary Master Craftspeople Award) for her exceptional skill. The award is presented to 100150 outstanding skilled workers by the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare every year. The vast majority of recipients are men in their 50s and older. In fiscal 2001, Konta was among only 10 women who received the award. Forty-one years old at the time, she was the youngest recipient of either gender.
In 1979, Konta joined NEC Yamagatas Takahata Plant, the firms IC and LSI chip manufacturing base. She was assigned to a section that mounted components onto semiconductor packages. Prior to that she had never touched a semiconductor, and her only experience with a microscope was during school science classes. She and her employers both agree that aptitude did not play a significant part in the appointment.