MicroE Faculty Inducted into the RIT Innovation Hall of Fame - May 2013
When I was considering what to do with myself after high school, I was struggling to decide upon a major. While attending an open house at RIT (was there to look at the graphic design program), I took a campus tour. The campus tour walked through the Microelectronic Engineering / Computer Engineering building in which I could see students dressed in clean-room gowns working on some very large tools. At the time, the Intel corporation was very aggressively marketing their Pentium line of processors and had many commercials depicting their engineers dancing through the streets in their clean-room apparel. One of my interests was engineering, I was intrigued by computers, and how they worked - I figured this major was for me.
"pushing the leading edge of modern applied science"
During my introduction course for Microelectronics Engineering, it became clear that this major, while challenging, was amongst those pushing the leading edge of modern applied science. As I continued my tenure at RIT I took classes in semiconductor processing, device physics, optics and more.
"During my first co-op (another key reason I chose RIT) at Motorola in Austin TX, I was able to "jump in with both feet"
During my first co-op (another key reason I chose RIT) at Motorola in Austin TX, I was able to "jump in with both feet," and was nearly instantly contributing. It seemed while other interns, from other schools, had to take some time to come up to speed with the industry, my classmates and I did not require much if any such lead time.
When I was in high school thinking about where to apply to college, I was struggling with what to major in. I wanted to be an engineer, but I was not exactly sure of which type. Eventually, I had learned of RIT’s Microelectronic Engineering (Micro-E) program and was immediately drawn to it.
"It [Microelectronic Engineering] ticked all the boxes. Physics and math? Check. Design at all levels of a hierarchy (materials, device, circuit, system)? Check. Mad scientist? Double check."
It was the type of major that would challenge me to succeed and intellectually reward me for my work. Beyond that, it was the nature of the work itself that drew me in. Microprocessors are like magic to most people, and the idea that I would one day understand how to design and build them was very appealing.
Looking back, there are two main elements to the Micro-E program that carved a path for my academic and professional careers – Co-Op and Senior Design. My first Co-Op was with Integrated Nano-Technologies in Rochester, which at the time was a startup company. It was a great experience and I met someone there who became something of a mentor to me throughout my remaining time at RIT. He was the first to really push me to pursue a Ph.D., which I ultimately did. My remaining Co-Op assignments were with IBM, with whom I maintained a relationship throughout college and graduate school. This helped me secure funding for my Ph.D. and gave me a foot in the door for my job search at the end of graduate school. I presently work at IBM as a device design engineer.
For the Senior Design course, I chose to investigate metallic source/drain transistors which, to me at least, exhibited some very interesting properties that were not well-understood at the time. My success with this project, and the new questions that arose as a result of this project, enticed me to continue this work all the way through my Ph.D. It informed much of the research I had done in graduate school and it changed how I view transistor design. Were it not for this Senior Design course, which sparked an entire research path for me, my academic career would have been much less fulfilling and I would likely not be where I am today.
Learn more about the Microelectronic Engineering Program at RIT