Undergrad: University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH - Physics
Current Job Title: Systems Engineer at General Dynamics Mission Systems
I first learned about the UO Master’s Industrial Program when searching for a graduate program that would lead to a career outside of academia. My undergraduate degree is in physics, and I found that the typical route in that field results in a career in either teaching or working at one of only a few national labs. Through an undergraduate internship with defense contractor General Dynamics, I discovered that I was much more excited by the devices and the application of physics concepts than I was about researching them. The semiconductor program allowed for a unique opportunity to further my physics education while providing a close relationship with industry leading companies, and it provided a step toward a career in industry.
The program was extremely challenging, fast-paced, and time consuming, but was well worth the effort. The program provided the fundamentals necessary to be successful in the semiconductor field, while also providing the connections and professional training required in industry. As part of the graduate program, I received an internship offer with IBM (now GlobalFoundries) in Burlington, Vermont. My job was in the Photomask Fabrication facility, with half my time spent on process engineering tasks to maintain and troubleshoot the production of photomasks, and the other half performing research methods for improvements in both efficiency and accuracy. The internship provided an opportunity to explore the different aspects of a career in the semiconductor field.
After the internship, I made the difficult decision to pursue a different career path. Through the internship I realized that a career in a semiconductor fabrication facility was not what I wanted. Using connections from my undergraduate internship, I found a job in a research and development group at General Dynamics. The job allowed me to use my understanding of semiconductor physics from the Oregon graduate program, and my experience in fabrication from my internship at IBM, to design and implement systems that utilize various semiconductor devices. This job was much more focused on the development of systems that use the technology rather than researching and creating the technology itself.
I am still at General Dynamics after 3 years, creating innovative systems with sensors and components that I first learned about and then created through the UO master’s program. Although my current job is not a common path for students in the program to take, I was only able to find this unique career through this program. The Masters Industrial Internship Program was crucial for obtaining a solid foundation in semiconductor physics, allowed me to explore a variety of career options, and most importantly prepared me to navigate through a broad industry to find a career that is both challenging and fulfilling.