Travelling the Globe to Support our Partners

April 24, 2017

“I like travelling,” Says Mina, a Nanotechnology Engineering graduate and member of Angstrom’s Test and Process Engineering team. The early part of 2017 has been a whirlwind for Mina; he went on four separate trips covering over 32,000 kilometers, visiting a number of Angstrom partners and helping with various projects.

“It’s a change of scenery. I don’t always get to see much of the places I visit because we’re usually very busy on the project, but when I do get to look around, it’s a treat.”

His first trip was to Puerto Rico to install a new system. The Nexdep PVD (physical vapor deposition) platform was for a group working on optical coatings. He even got a surprise rental car upgrade to a convertible, giving him the ability to enjoy the warm tropical weather. His hosts were welcoming, and he was able to enjoy some true Puerto Rican cuisine. “Mofongo was delicious!”

After a short return to Canada, he was off to Atlanta for an install of a system integrated with a glovebox. “I worked very hard to get this done, spending some pretty long days on it. However, spending time with our partners makes this type of work worth it. Sometimes an install can be physically and mentally demanding; you’re on a schedule to get it all working to the highest standard. Having that interaction with the customer is really great, as they are excited to get their research up and running. You make those connections with people who care about what they do, and you get to know someone.

“When they see how hard we work, they really do appreciate it, and they see it come together. They understand we are doing all we can to get them to a place where they can be successful, and they’re excited. We make it very clear that this isn’t the end of our journey together, for as long as you need us, we’re there. The common question is the warranty – ‘We get support for a year?’ No, you get support for life. People don’t always realize that, but it’s just what you get by working with Angstrom.”

Next, he was off to another U.S. partner to support their work with their Nebula cluster system that is part of the bleeding edge of OLED (organic light emitting diode) development. On his way home, he got stuck in the airport during a blizzard he calls ‘Snowmageddon 2017’, and arrived back in Canada just in time to meet up with Angstrom Engineering’s service manager, Sean, and catch a flight to Saudi Arabia.

Angstrom has 15 systems at KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology), with more currently in development, and we regularly visit to support those machines. From basic maintenance to system upgrades, we make sure every one of these tools is working precisely. “KAUST is an extremely interesting place. It exists within a compound north of Jeddah, and is very nice, modern, and multi-cultural. It comprises quite a lot of equipment and state-of-the-art labs. Getting there is fascinating, as many people at the Jeddah airport are there for Umrah.” Umrah is the pilgrimage that can take place any time of year, as opposed to the Hajj, which takes place during the final month of the Islamic calendar. “We saw many people in ceremonial pilgrimage garb at the airport, and then got through the various gate accesses after driving an hour north to KAUST. It’s a little surreal; many of the customers we spent time with would never leave the compound. They have families, social lives, go to the park and beach, and attend school all from inside.”

The Kuwait skyline, a welcome sight for one of Angstrom’s world travelers.

Finally, after a busy schedule of work, Mina was able to visit his family in Kuwait. “I don’t get to see them in person very often. I have a nephew who just turned 1 and I finally got to see the little guy. Recharging with family was a good way to cap off a month of travel and hard work.

“Life on the road with Angstrom Engineering is rewarding. We have a global reach. It’s a company that strives for the ideal that the customer always gets a machine that helps them achieve their goals, along with the service that makes sure that continues. I work hard to get people what they need.” Mina will soon be on the road again, this time to California for another system install. “I know that every time I go on an install, I am the face of Angstrom and have the responsibility to be the ambassador. Connecting with the customer in that regard is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. Ultimately, our customers want to discover the next best thing, like new materials for OLEDS, a new device for solar cells, or piezoelectric power generators; whatever that thing is, they need us to provide the way, and I want to make sure I give them that.”

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