Extraordinary people have shaped the world as we know it today and our Tyndall alumni are no exception. They embody the scientific legacy of Tyndall and continue to make a difference and ripples of impact throughout their careers.
Today, we are proud to feature Dr Rathnait Long, former Microelectronic Engineering student at Tyndall who completed both her masters and PhD at Tyndall. Rathnait is now a Senior Principal Engineer in the Advanced Technology Group at MACOM Technology Solutions, based in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Rathnait describes her time at Tyndall, her fondest memories all stemming from one key component – collaboration. Alongside her career milestones, she shares her learnings and essential factors to becoming a successful engineer.
What is your current role and how different is it from your role in Tyndall?
I work in the Advanced Technology Group at MACOM Technology Solutions in Lowell, Massachusetts in the US. I work on the ‘Development’ side of R&D. My Ph.D. (by definition) was very much the ‘Research’ side of R&D.
How did your time at Tyndall progress your career?
I first completed my Masters at Tyndall working in the Central Fabrication Facility. It is here that I learned to value and have pride in being detail orientated. The process engineers and Fab managers helped me to realise that semiconductor materials and the processing of them is indeed challenging - so precision is key. This attribute of being technically precise, I believe, is a critical component of being the best engineer that I can be.
During my Ph.D. at Tyndall, I was able to further develop the set of skills I needed to secure my current role (which is the type of role I always wanted to be in): technical depth, independent thinking, collaborative problem solving – all of which had their sturdy foundations laid during my time at Tyndall.
What are you doing now?
My role is to find and develop any relevant new technologies (process and/or design) for the advancement of MACOM’s product portfolio. It means no two days are ever the same.
Tell us your best memories of Tyndall
There are two aspects to this, both stemming from the same key feature: collaboration.
From a technical perspective, my Ph.D. supervisor Professor Paul Hurley demonstrated the power of collaborating with people who are both within and beyond the area of research. Prof Hurley was instrumental in helping me understand the power of engaging in deep technical discussions with others and to this day acts as a role model for how I continue to listen and learn from those around me.
From a personal perspective, there are so many – tag rugby, nights out and coffee breaks with my peers, both Irish and International. They were some of the happiest days of my early career.
Share with us your career milestones
Carrying out research at Stanford University definitely stands out. I worked in Professor Paul McIntyre’s group in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. His ability to develop students to become independent technical thinkers (while keeping them on track to achieve their postgraduate goals) resonated hugely with me.
The second career milestone I would highlight is the work I am doing with MACOM right now. I have started doing, amongst many other things, some RF device design and loving it! Further to that, it would appear that the work that I am doing now will become a standalone new technology for MACOM; as an engineer, seeing the technology we develop becoming a real product – is a great feeling!
What’s your advice for those following in your footsteps?
While it can be daunting – always be ready to try new things and meet new people. Both will invariably lead to rewarding experiences.
What could be done to raise the profile of (support) women in STEM and #BreakTheBias?
There are many programmes that are already addressing this – such as Tyndall’s Empowering Women’s committee. Implementing a grassroots effort from early childhood where children learn about the excitement of engineering from an early age, I believe is key. It is why I am so committed to sharing the sense of fulfilment I have from my STEM career as well as the opportunities it presents with our daughters and their friends – sometimes I get their attention!!
How do you like to spend your personal-time?
I have two young daughters (4 and 8) so they take up a lot of it! However, I do like to play tennis, go to the gym, spend time with my husband and have some quiet reading time (when I can!!)
What’s a motto you live by?
Work like a captain, play like a pirate!
2020 & 2021 have been challenging years for many and some have taken it as a time to reflect. What would your own learnings be from 2020 and 2021?
I believe we have all been impacted by the pandemic, in different ways. From my perspective, it has only accentuated the importance of supporting family, health and well-being – both in my own world and in the worlds of those around me.