Wednesday, June 3, 2009

First week at IMEC

As with any internship or job, there's always a ton of paperwork to fill out. With weeks of preparation and two days into the internship, I was still filling out paperwork and sorting out housing arrangements.

When I first got to IMEC, I was surprised to see that the majority of the employees were very young. In total, there are about 1,600 employees, with several hundred being PhD students. The average age here seems to be around mid-30s, which is surprisingly low for a corporation. At my internship at ExxonMobil last summer, the average age was easily in the high 40s to low 50s. Additionally, the dress code is surprisingly casual. On my first day, I came in wearing a tucked in button-up. I figured business casual would have been the most appropriate. When I was waiting for my supervisor to pick me up from the lobby, I saw people coming in wearing t-shirts, shorts, jeans, and even sandals. Apparently I had overdressed. The next day, I figured I would dress 'appropriately' with jeans, a polo, and sneakers. I don't know how common this nonexistent dress code is in Europe. It may have resulted from the fact that the majority of the employees are so young and the company has adapted itself to the younger generation, but that's just my guess.

For these first two days, I didn't do much other than fill out paperwork and take care of some formalities to get into the company's system. I vaguely have an idea of what project I'll be working on. The whole point of being here at IMEC is to work on a collaborative project combining the research we do at the Gracias Lab at JHU with some of the research done here. In the Gracias lab, we lithographically fabricate 3D self-assembled nano/micro structures based on 2D templates with sizes ranging from 100 nanometers to 2 millimeters. For more information about our research, please visit the group website. The group that I'm working with over here has experience with plasmonic nanostructures, which, with relevance to optics, are structures that induce field localization to generate strongly enhanced local hotspots. The end goal is combine our two structures to develop a plasmonic nanoscale 3-axis sensor.

This past Tuesday and Wednesday was all about finishing registration and paperwork. Thursday and Friday I spent a large amount of my time reading papers that the group had published to get a better understanding of their plasmonics research. I had a lot of discussions with the group members about their research and IMEC facilities. Additionally, I got a tour of the clean room where I'll be doing most of my fabrication. I was impressed by the shear size of the clean room. The total area of all the clean rooms is 5,200 square meters, where 1,750 square meters is considered a class 1 area. This is all compared to the 14 square meter clean room that we have at the Gracias lab in the Maryland building.

One of the little neat things here is that, similar to the Jcard at Hopkins, the access badge serves as a form of payment. There are vending machines here that dispose coffee/tea/water/hot chocolate into a small plastic cup that probably holds 3-4 ounces. You can manually alter the strength of the coffee/tea and the amount of sugar/milk by pressing the touchpad. Everyone also gets 1 free drink per day, if you get more than 1, I think it's 0.25 euros for each one after. Although I don't really think it's worth paying for the small volume of the beverage you actually get, I'll still take advantage of my free drink per day.

I know it's a bad picture. It seems like whenever these badge pictures are taken, they never tell you when they're actually going to take the picture. The woman just said, "This is where you look." As I said "Okay," she said, "we're all done!"


  1. Hi,
    Wonderful blog and nice presentation.Do you know how much IMEC pays for student internship

  2. 900 euros per month