What a busy fall this has been. I have never never mixed my blog life with my professional life before. I was an early adopter of LinkedIn and keep my professional life over there and keep SMU separate as my playpen.
This past week I was at a the American Vacuum Society symposium in Baltimore, Maryland. Symposium is one of my favorite words. It sounds so impressive. It is a Latinized word from the Greek symposion, loosely meaning, “to drink together”. Yah, I’ve seen some derivations that boldly proclaim “old men’s drinking club”.
Regardless, I have a pretty cool job. I’m fully responsible for all of the vacuum technology for the major business unit of a company that specializes in making machines that make computer chips.
“So, Steve”, you may ask, “what is the big deal about being over all of the Hovers and Electroluxes in a company?” Well, that’s not what I do.
A vacuum is defined as being a volume with all of the matter removed. Think of it this way, you mock up a metal box and pump all of the gas out of it. That is a vacuum. That’s what I do. I have achieved the goal of many a man. I get paid for nothing. Put it in other words, I know a whole lot about nothing.
But why would any sane company be so interested in nothing? You see, when you make computer chips, sometimes you need to remove all of the air from the chip’s environment. If there were air, then the process wouldn’t function. Perhaps the process involves heat. In this case, oxygen would destroy the chip. Sometimes we have to bombard the chips with particles to create the devices. If there were air in the chamber, we couldn’t get the particles from the source to the target. Thus we do a lot of processes in a vacuum.
I would bet my last dollar that the device that you are reading this on has chips that have been processed by one or more of our machines and thus have been in vacuum environments that I have helped to engineer. Yes. I have a pretty cool, low pressure job.