Student researcher gives back

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Doctoral student Germain Fenger applies a photo-resist material onto a semiconductor in the Nanolithography Research Lab.

Germain Fenger says learning is a humbling experience. He has studied at RIT for 10 years in the microsystems engineering department.

“At the end of high school, you think you know everything,” says Fenger, a native of Wittenberg, Wis. “At the end of your first year of college, you then know everything. It gets to the point where you realize you don’t know anything.”

Fenger does indeed know a great deal about microelectronics and nanolithography. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in microelectronic engineering from RIT and is working on his doctoral degree in microsystems engineering. He expects to finish in the spring. In 2011, The Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers Photomask International Group awarded him one of five top awards to student-researchers from around the world. His research focuses on photoresist-based aberration metrology for extreme ultraviolet lithography, the next-generation lithography system for integrated circuit manufacturing. Lithography is used in making microprocessors.

Fenger has lived in Korea and Belgium, conducting research projects for IMEC, one of the leading research facilities in the world, and Corning Inc., the primary manufacturer of glass used in cell phones and flat-screen televisions.

“Working with people who are top in the field has given me the confidence in what I do know and made me more aware of what’s out there. It’s been a great experience.”

After his close friend died last year of a heart attack, Fenger reconsidered his priorities. “He was getting his Ph.D. in oceanography and a real champion for clean water and maintaining our oceans. After he died, I rethought about a lot of things in my life.”

Fenger has shifted his personal time to helping others. He works with at-risk youth in Rochester, serves as part of the disaster action team for the Red Cross and volunteers to clean up the Genesee River.

“Many people go through their days and don’t consider the ramifications of their actions. I have come to realize that while I am competent in what I do professionally, it is more important to give back to a community than a company.”