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KLA-Tencor Corporation, Wafer Inspection Group

Location: Milpitas, CA; USA 
Project Owner: Naema Bhatti, KLA-Tencor Corporation
Facilitator: Glenn Hughes, KLA-Tencor Corporation


Naema Bhatti
KLA-Tencor Corporation


Glenn Hughes
KLA-Tencor Corporation



In 2014, KLA-Tencor Corporation began four strategic imperatives. Two of these were ‘Innovation’ and ‘Collaboration’. In particular, the company hoped to see more innovation and collaboration occur outside of traditional company processes.

To support these imperatives, a small team led by Naema Bhatti, proposed our first two-day hackathon, an event where employees could dedicate 48 hours to solving any problem that interested them. The company would provide time, space, resources and executive sponsorship. At the end of the 48 hours, judges would select three winners.

While enthusiasm was high among the core team, questions remained. In a company where many people didn’t know what a ‘Hackathon’ was, could we attract participants? Would they collaborate? Would their projects be worthwhile? Would judges recognize the best projects? And could it all be accomplished in 48 hours?

With these challenges in mind, Naema Bhatti contacted Glenn Hughes to facilitate the event and the pre-meetings.  The objectives were:

To create a successful Hackathon event, measured by the event’s ability to:

1.Attract at least 50 engineers to the two-day Hackathon, KLA-Tencor’s first collaborative problem-solving experience.

2.Generate demand for a second Hackathon, as a result of a positive participant experience.

3.Inspire multiple ‘worthy’ projects and event winners that would spur leaders to sponsor a second Hackathon.

4.Result in at least one project worth funding, post-Hackathon.

Key Results Achieved

The key results achieved include:

  • More than 70 engineers attended the Hackathon, forming 23 teams.
  • The event was universally praised by participants, inspiring a second event in October of 2016, this time open to 200 participants from six countries.
  • Multiple Senior Executives commented that the majority of the projects were worth pursuing. This resulted in a 2.5X increase in funding for Hackathon II.
  • The winning project has been funded for further development. Additionally, time and resources have been committed for further work on 11 of the 23 projects.