excellence links Photronics and RIT
Tiny integrated circuits
drive today’s technology, forming the basis of countless
devices ranging from personal computers to cell phones to TV
|Among the many RIT grads who work at Photronics Inc. is
this group at the company’s Allen, Texas facility.
From left are Terry Kibler ’80, Eric Poortinga ’02,
Mike Cangemi ’98, Dave Mofett ’77, Matt Lassiter ’00,
Steve Carlson ’88 and ’90, Marc Cangemi ’03
and Bryan Kasprowicz ’96.
“Chips are in
everything,” says Steve Carlson ’88 (microelectronic
engineering) and ’90 (M.S., imaging science), senior vice
president for research and development for Photronics Inc. The
company is the world leader in the design, development and production
of photomasks, a key element in the manufacture of semiconductor
and microelectronic components. Photronics, which reported sales
of $91.5 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003, is a public
company listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange (PLAB).
through a printing process called microlithography, are high-precision
quartz plates that contain microscopic images of electronic
circuits. The masks are used to transfer the circuit patterns
onto the silicon layers that make up a chip. Chips vary in
complexity, but a typical computer microprocessor requires
30 to 40 different masks each costing as much as $150,000.
really fascinating,” says Carlson, noting
that the ability to create increasingly intricate photomasks
has become the most critical step in the process of manufacturing
smaller and more powerful microprocessors and other components.
Carlson was drawn to microlithography “because it
seemed like the most complex and least understood” part
of the process of producing microelectronic components.
has happened is microlithography has become the gating
mechanism for the mythical Moore’s Law,” says
Carlson, referring to the 1965 prediction by Gordon Moore
of Intel stating that the transistor density on integrated
circuits would double every couple of years, resulting
in increased performance and decreased cost. To date,
that law has not been broken, thanks to the efforts of
engineers and scientists – RIT grads
Carlson, who joined
Photronics five years ago, is one of many RIT alumni working
for the company.
make RIT grads especially attractive,” says
Carlson, who was named Distinguished Alumnus of the
Kate Gleason College of Engineering in 1999. “Through
the micro-e lab, students gain exposure to directly relevant
projects. And in the co-op program, they get real work experience.
It gives them a great head start.”
customers include companies such as IBM, Intel, Texas Instruments
and Samsung, has manufacturing facilities in Asia, Europe
and North America. Currently, In addition to the many RIT
grads in full-time jobs, the company typically employs
six co-ops each quarter at the Allen, Texas, Austin, Texas
or Brookfield, Conn., facilities.
RIT graduates currently
working at Allen, Texas, include Carlson; Development Engineers
Marc Cangemi ’03 (microelectronic
engineering), Mike Cangemi ’98 (micro-e),
Bryan Kasprowicz ’96
(micro-e) and Matt Lassiter ’00 (micro-e);
Human Resources Manager Terry Kibler ’80
(business administration); Quality Assurance
Manager Dave Moffett ’77 (imaging science);
and Manufacturing Engineer Mohammed Razzak ’96
(microelectronic manufacturing engineering).
Alumni employed at the Austin site include Ben
(micro-e), director advanced process development;
Development Engineers Eric Poortinga ’02
(micro-e) and Tejas Javeri ’03 (micro-e);
and Manufacturing Engineers Matt Malloy ’03
(micro-e) and Matt Shepard ’03 (micro-e).
Alums at the Brookfield facility include Christopher
(imaging science), director of corporate quality,
and Julio Bonilla ’96
(micro-e), quality engineer.
Photronics has other
important ties to RIT. The company has initiated
some joint R&D work with RIT, provided guidance
on student projects and donated a MEBES III e-beam
tool and other equipment and materials to RIT’s
microelectronic engineering program. The company
was formally recognized as an Industrial Affiliate
of the Microelectronic Engineering program in