Three Berkeley High students donned cleanroom suits and safety gear at the Marvell NanoLab at CITRIS last summer, as interns in a program designed to inspire young women to consider careers in science and engineering. Working in the NanoLab offers “a rare opportunity for high school girls to gain hands on-experience in a high-tech research environment,” says engineering professor and Vice Provost for Space Planning Tsu-Jae King Liu, who founded the internship program in 2001.
During the eight-week program, interns work alongside laboratory staff mentors on nanotechnology research projects using complex research equipment to provide baseline data for graduate and postdoctoral researchers. At the end of summer, interns present their projects and outline the skills and concepts gained from participating in the program.
For a glimpse of the broader tech industry, interns attend Semicon West in San Francisco, the annual industry conference, where semiconductor equipment companies present their latest products and share their vision of the future of semiconductor research and its applications.
Since the program’s founding, more than 30 young women have completed internships. Alumnae have gone on to study at the nation’s most prestigious research universities, including Berkeley, Stanford, and MIT. Several have pursued graduate degrees, not only in the sciences, but also in business, education, and other fields.
Berkeley High senior Sally Robinson participated in the program last summer, helping to develop a thick photoresist, a critical process in the electronics industry. Her work will be put to use in future research projects, says laboratory mentor Allison Dove.
Robinson, meanwhile, is looking ahead to college. “I intend to pursue engineering of some sort,” she says. “I’m thinking about chemical engineering mostly.”