Student Spotlight: S. J. Wang

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S.J. Wang received his bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Zhejiang University in China and a master’s in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. The reason he chose to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering was due in part to his work at IM Flash, a semiconductor manufacturing company based in Lehi where many of the processes are related to chemical engineering. A colleague of Wang’s highly recommended University of Utah chemical engineering professor Mikhail Skliar because Skliar had been conducting control system research at the time Wang was a control engineer. This made it a perfect match for him to begin his research with Skliar.

As a principle engineer at IM Flash, Wang has been recognized as a worldwide expert for the control system at Micron Fab Network. His current career goal is to continuously drive the cutting-edge process control research at IM Flash and make the 3DxP memory win. 3DxP memory is a new memory product, which delivers speeds a thousand times faster than traditional NAND memory. His long-term goal, however, is to become a control expert recognized by his peers in the industry. Wang says he appreciates that the chemical engineering department provided him with an excellent remote program that offered a part-time graduate student like himself the opportunity to use the latest technology. Not only was he afforded the opportunity to complete his doctorate while continuing to work full-time at IM Flash, but he was also able to turn his doctoral research into a real-world application at his company. The developed controller is the first known implementation of model-based, non-threaded R2R control strategy that was successfully deployed in the high-volume semiconductor fabrication facility (Fab). In the other research, the virtual metrology (VM) is the first known application where VM is integrated into Run-to-Run control successfully in the real production environment, and this application alone saves the company $300,000 per process, per year.

During his time at the University of Utah, Wang was selected to be the chair for virtual metrology at the APC Conference XXVI in 2014, an international conference focused on advanced process control topics related to his research.

Along with the rewards, Wang also encountered a lot of difficulties and roadblocks during his research, but he did not quit. His advice for new doctoral students is: “You need to learn how to break down the big problem into pieces and then solve the smaller ones. The interesting thing you will find out is that the harder you are challenged, the closer you are to reaching the breakthrough.”

Wang enjoys fishing and playing soccer and will hopefully be able to participate in these activities more frequently now that he has graduated.

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