By Allison McLellan
Alumnus Shan Zhong studied materials science and engineering at UConn from 2003 to 2007 after graduating from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. His Masters thesis was on “Phase Transformation Characteristics and Dielectric Response of Multilayer Ferroelectrics” and his Ph.D. dissertation on “Ferroelectric multilayers and heterostructures for high performance tunable microwave devices applications.” At UConn, Zhang worked as a research assistant and was a member to several student societies including Sigma Xi, Alpha Sigma Mu, the Materials Research Society, the American Physics Society, and the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society. Since graduation, Zhang began working at Intel Corporation in Arizona, becoming the Engineering TD Manager in 2013. He highlights how his education and experiences at UConn helped him to get to where he is today.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Connecticut?
During my graduate school application in 2002, I picked schools with multiple disciplines in the materials science and engineering. UConn was one of them. I wanted to have more choices when it came to pick my research field. The final reason I chose to come to UConn was quite simple: UConn provided me full financial support. That was the only way for me to be able to come to US for graduate school.
Why are you interested in materials sciences and engineering?
My undergraduate major back in China was materials science and engineering. I wanted to continue this area for my graduate study. To be honest, I did not have any idea what exactly materials science and engineering was when I selected this major. Only thing in my mind was it seems cool. I was debating between computer science and materials. I figured I could learn programming by myself if I really like programming. Materials science and engineering is hard to learn on your own.
What is your favorite memory from UConn?
The first year I came to UConn was the year that both the men and women basketball teams won the National Championship for the first time. I remember we were cheering at Gampel Pavilion. That is the first time experienced college sports and was able to witness all the after-game madness.
How did your experience at UConn prepare you for the industry?
Basically, I learned how to think independently when you are on a brand new subject. For that, I want to thank my advisor Dr. Alpay for guiding me and giving me total freedom to explore. That’s what benefited me when I joined Intel to work on electronics packaging, which is a totally new field for me. I like trying new things: electronics, new gadget, even new sports. That spirit helped me learn semiconductor packaging process and technology pretty quick.
What attracted you to work with Intel Corporation in Arizona?
It was simple decision for me too: my first job interview landed me my first offer. I was a big fan of DIY PC. I was fascinated by Intel process advancement from the news. Intel is perfect choice for me to experience in a big tech company in US.
Do you have any advice for current MSE students?
Be open to learn and experience new things. To me, graduate school is the place to get the tools and methodology to learn a new topic and dive deep into it. To develop this capability, you have to try new things and keep the curiosity. I enjoyed this a lot.