Zach Klassen

Zach Klassen

Zach Klassen

Track: Optics
Undergrad: University of Minnesota, Morris - Physics
Internship: Thermo Fisher Scientific
Current Job Title: Product Design Engineer at Honeywell Aerospace

How did you find yourself at Oregon and what about the program intrigued you?
After I finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota I began working on microscopes for Leeds Forensic Systems, which sparked my interest in optics. I decided I wanted to continue my education to further my understanding of optics in order to create better optical designs. I began to look for optics programs and came across the University of Oregon’s Master’s Industrial Internship Program. I was immediately interested because of the program’s close ties to industry and the fact that I would receive hands-on experience in a range of optical applications. The possibility of finishing a Master’s degree in less than two years was also a bonus.

What was the intensive summer like for you?
The summer was definitely intense and at times I felt overwhelmed, but the entire staff and students in the program were a great support network. The summer coursework and labs taught me how to manage my time more efficiently in order to keep up with all the work. Every morning during the summer, we began with class work, during which we moved quickly through a range of advanced topics. The second half of the day we worked in the lab applying the concepts we learned during class. The evenings were spent working on homework and writing lab reports with my fellow classmates. The amount of time spent working with my classmates also built amazing and long-lasting friendships.

One day a week we worked on professional development to further prepare for our careers. Initially I did not enjoy professional development because it put me outside my comfort zone, but after a few weeks I started to see how beneficial it would be in advancing my career. The summer finished with a networking event followed by two days of interviews. The networking event can be a stressful time, but also an extremely exciting time. I was lucky enough to get interviews with many great companies and received an offer immediately from Thermo Fisher Scientific. The summer was very challenging, but overall has helped immensely to prepare me for the fast pace of industry.

Where did you do your Internship?
I did my internship at Thermo Fisher Scientific (Formerly FEI Company) in Hillsboro, Oregon. The company develops electron microscopy solutions for material science, semiconductors, oil and gas, as well as life sciences applications. I worked on the plasma focused ion beam (PFIB) for the small dual beam microscope. The team I worked with was amazing. They helped me develop many different skills by allowing me to be a part of a range of different projects. During my time there I worked on testing and developing components of the microscope, maintaining and monitoring functionality and quality, as well as working on developing new techniques for processing semiconductors with the PFIB. Thermo Fisher Scientific was a great place to work and I am very grateful for the people I met and what I was able to learn from them during my time there. The internship was an invaluable part of the program.

Did you feel the program prepared you for the internship?
The program taught us how to be self-sufficient and effective in a lab/industry setting. The summer is a busy and demanding time because of the classes, homework, and lab reports. The program was a very realistic simulation of working in industry. It enabled me to perform many different challenging tasks simultaneously.

How did your internship prepare you for your current position/career path?
The internship gave me the opportunity to work in a field that was brand new to me and allowed me to experience the fast pace of a thriving company. This was very useful when I started working for Honeywell Aerospace and I needed to get up to speed quickly to work effectively on the Ring Laser Gyroscope. It also gave me the ability to juggle many different projects while learning all about the technology I was working with.

How have you evolved in your career since you started? What do you enjoy about what you do and what makes it a good fit for you?
The Master’s Industrial Internship Program has given me the confidence and training to lead teams in planning and carrying out testing that I use frequently in my current position. I am now leading a team to investigate one of the main failure mechanisms of the Ring Laser Gyroscope in order to extend the life.

I enjoy my position as a Design Engineer with Honeywell Aerospace because of the range of work I get to do each day. My days consist of collaborating with the production engineers to ensure that any production process changes do not degrade the gyroscopes. I also get to work on a variety of other projects ranging from new development, modeling, and managing life testing.