Track: Polymer Science
Undergrad: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR - Chemical Engineering
Current Job Title: CMC Materials at Cabot Microelectronics
I graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in chemical engineering. After working in industry for a year, I was interested in the Master’s Industrial Internship Program at University of Oregon as a way to boost my qualifications for the types of jobs I was interested in, but not yet qualified for. The program at the UO offered a way to get a Master’s degree as well as training in professional development. It also provided the advantage of company partnerships for internship opportunities. I decided on the polymer track because polymers are extremely common in almost every industry. I felt this information could be used no matter where I ended up.
The intensive summer coursework was challenging but manageable. It required working with classmates to solve homework problems and complete labs, which is a realistic sample of how it is to work in industry on a tough project. Another way that the program mimics industry is that I sometimes relied on the tutoring and technical expertise of my classmates who had more chemical synthesis experience (since I came from an engineering background).
The professional development portion of the summer was really valuable, and gave me skills that will be applicable throughout my career. I felt more confident and prepared to enter the professional world and navigate the job-hunting experience. It’s the sort of thing everyone needs to learn but isn’t offered in undergrad.
I completed my internship at FormFactor, Inc. in Beaverton, OR, which makes probes for testing chips that are used during manufacturing. During my internship, I worked in the R&D group and my main project was to characterize a new metrology tool and determine what types of process monitoring measurements for which it could be used. I was responsible for giving project updates, working with other groups to acquire product to measure, and doing statistical analysis of my findings. A typical day would include meeting with my mentor to get aligned on any work that needed to be done that day, and then either conducting my experiments or analyzing data.
The program prepared me for my internship by giving me experience in working closely in groups to make progress towards a final project goal, while also reporting to managers/stakeholders with updates. It also prepared me with technical knowledge and skills, including analysis tools but also statistical analysis skills. This combination helped me make immediate contributions to my team.
My internship led to my current position; I ended up being hired by another group at the same company, so a lot of the company-specific information I learned was really helpful. In general, I think it prepared me well to be in a full-time position at any company because, for the 9 month internship, I was expected to perform at the level of a full contributing employee. It really was a guided learning experience of what my future job would be like. The work I do for my company serves the common good because we make probes that are essential for creating the chips required to process the types of communication that allow people to talk to each other across the world. This brings a lot of people together. Overall, I completely feel this program was the right choice for me and it remains one of the best decisions I have made.