“Being an avid gamer in my adolescence and coming from the generation where video game graphics transformed from 8-bit to HD, I witnessed first-hand the rapid pace of technological evolution. Today, as a Process Support Engineer with Applied Materials, I have the amazing opportunity to be a part of what has now become a revolution.
I specialise in Plasma Etch – we harness the power of the basic building blocks of nature (ions & radicals) to shape vast metropolises and structures on the nanoscale. The ability to form such intricate structures never ceases to amaze me. The trillions of structures I drill and construct on wafers are carefully designed to help store and process huge volumes of data. The patterns we make are invisible to the naked eye and are a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair. It is at this scale that we work around the clock to reimagine the limits of possibility and make possible the technologies shaping the future.
Centris® Sym3® Y, which Sylvester works on, is Applied’s most advanced etch system, capable of precisely etching multiple layers of different materials in a single chamber.
My fascination with technology started young. I spent a lot of time with my cousins LAN-gaming at my uncle’s office because it had more stable internet. I went from playing pinball to Diablo and Warcraft, and saw how video game graphics transformed. Our computers always needed upgrades and new parts to keep up – and I was curious about what was changing and why. Pursuing a degree in Material Science and Engineering was a natural extension of that curiosity, and a chance to put what I learnt to use. Getting a job at Applied Materials upon graduation created an opportunity to work at the forefront of materials engineering and I was thrilled.
Four years into my job, I love the various avenues I have been able to explore. In my third year, I was selected to be one of two Regional Office Management Associates and participate in corporate-level strategy & operations under the mentorship of senior executives. I was exposed to various facets of Applied’s activities beyond my primary job scope, and got to interact with colleagues from across the company and around the world, and partners in the semiconductor space, including A*STAR’s Institute of Microelectronics.
My leaders and mentors have supported my development and matched my enthusiasm every step of the way – providing opportunities for me to take on increasingly challenging assignments in my core role as an engineer and to bolster my interpersonal skills and enterprise skill sets. I’ve been able to build knowledge that is both deep and wide. In this sector, every day is a challenge. I pull together various bits of knowledge, experience and various applications to build better products. I get to be a problem solver – and the answers are not on Google.”
Sylvester Heng, 29, is a Process Support Engineer and a Regional Office Management Associate at Applied Materials. He joined the company when he graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2016.