Alumni spotlight: Inês Gomes Pádua

Name: Inês Gomes Pádua

Degree: MEng Materials Science and Engineering in the Department of Materials

Graduation Year: 2021

Current role: Heat and Mass Transfer Engineer at ASML San Diego

What is your current job?

I work as a Heat and Mass Transfer Engineer at ASML San Diego. ASML is a Dutch company based in Veldhoven, NL, with several offices worldwide. The San Diego office is responsible for developing the light sources of ASML’s lithography machines.

What do you do in your job?

I work on EUV (Extreme Ultra-Violet) light sources for the most advanced lithography machines that ASML produces. Specifically, I work in tin management: the light needed to achieve the EUV wavelengths is produced by aiming a powerful laser at minuscule droplets of tin to create a plasma. So, how do we ensure that only the light is transmitted to the rest of the machine and that the tin plasma, vapour and debris are properly disposed of? That’s where my team comes in!

Why did you choose a career in Materials Science and Engineering?

I first became interested in Materials Science and Engineering because I wanted to understand what makes certain things more fragile than others or more susceptible to breaking and failure! This is only the smallest part of Materials Science and Engineering, as I would discover during my time at Imperial.

Working in the semiconductors industry is very rewarding and, honestly, sometimes a little surreal. I work at one of the most important companies in the chipmaking supply chain. It’s incredible technology. The kind of innovation supported by newer, more advanced microchips like the ones ASML helps to manufacture is, simply put, very cool.

What did you enjoy most about the course at Imperial?

I really enjoyed the practical aspect of the MSE course. It’s taught me how to handle laboratory and cleanroom work very well and manage all the unexpected problems that come with hands-on work. It wasn’t always easy, and there were a lot of failed experiments in undergrad, but certainly where I gained the most from.

What is the coolest thing you have done in your career so far?

I have to say moving to California is pretty amazing. I’m so grateful to work at such an international company and to experience a different work culture, a highly specialised team of engineers coming together to push the edges of engineering and physics. And then I can go surfing afterwards! I can hardly believe it myself.

From a technical standpoint, the coolest thing I’ve done so far is contributing to the development and production of the first high-NA EUV light source, which is currently at Intel’s Oregon Factory.

What is your favourite material (and why)?

Bronze. Firstly, there’s an entire era of humanity named the Bronze Age! As someone who works with tin and works with the consequences of tin reacting with other materials, I always find satisfaction in knowing that we’ve conquered bronze.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Be a jack of all trades! Materials Science and Engineering is one of the most interdisciplinary degrees you can pursue at Imperial. It’s at the crossroads of all sciences and engineering, bringing together a diverse group of minds, skills and ideas!

My degree has enabled me to connect and learn from all my colleagues, correlate seemingly disconnected concepts, and discover new perspectives on problem-solving. Beyond the technical skills, take pride in your hobbies and passions and the skills you learn while playing sports, music, video games, etc. What are you learning could make you a better engineer!