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April 26, 2019

Talent and the Battle for Environmental Preservation

In 2016, the then-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban-Ki Moon, stated “Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth. These are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment.” The SEMI Talent Forum, 2-3 May, 2019 in Bristol, UK will explore new opportunities and challenges of the digital era and the industry’s need for talent and the knowledge and skills in automation, computerization and digitization to drive tech innovation. Serena Brischetto of SEMI spoke with professor Michael Czerniak, Environmental Solutions Business Development Manager at Edwards, about how digitalization impacts all these key areas and will be instrumental in helping humanity shape the future.

The preservation of the global environment and the talent shortage are probably two of the most critical challenges confronting the semiconductor industry. What is the Edwards position on these issues?

Czerniak: When I started in the industry, climate change was a new concept and scientific investigation was in its infancy. Now it is a well-understood phenomenon and its impacts will only be minimised by the implementation of better technologies, nearly all of which depend on digital technology and a talented workforce to drive new innovation. This is mission-critical not only to Edwards, but also to the digital industry, and indeed our common future.

Talent Edwards logoSEMI: Edwards celebrates 100 years of empowering innovative people. How do you help electronics shape the future and advance life standards? What is your secret recipe?

Czerniak: Edwards plays a key role in enabling semiconductor manufacturers by making the electronic circuits, also commonly known as chips, on which the Digital Age is built. Our secret recipe is: nothing! We literally have no molecules at all, i.e. vacuum, which enables the intricate processes like plasma chemistry taking place. Those are the processes used to sequentially deposit and remove the thin films that constitute a modern semiconductor device. We also remove harmful and global-warming gas exhausts from these processes to minimise the environmental impact of this amazing industry.

SEMI: What is stimulating about semiconductors and could you give us an example of how Edwards is helping remove harmful and global-warming gases?

Czerniak: I work in environmental science both at Edwards and also here in Bristol in the School of Chemistry. My least-favorite gas is called CF4. Not only is it thousands of times more impactful as a global warming gas, but also it has an atmospheric lifetime of 50,000 years. Using abatement technology pioneered by Edwards, emissions of this gas into the atmosphere produced by this industry, have been reduced by up to 95%. That’s certainly something to make you feel good about after a day at work!

Talent Forum logo 1

SEMI: Edwards was honored with the SEMI Diversity and Inclusion award and also for the company's 100th anniversary at the Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) Europe in Milan in early April. What is particularly exciting about Edwards?

Czerniak: Edwards is and always has been a very inclusive place to work, not least because it is a global company, reflecting the scope and geographical reach of the semiconductor industry as a whole. This provides a great variety of career paths locally at one of our many global manufacturing sites, or on a global scale, as we need to be where our customers are.

SEMI: What are your expectations regarding the forum in Bristol, and for the future ahead? What is the status of the semiconductor workforce development scenario in your opinion? What can we do more?

Czerniak: My main hope for the Talent Forum in Bristol is that the profile of the semiconductor industry will be raised amongst students considering their future career options to the point where they seriously consider applying for positions in this field. This applies to students from all disciplines as they are all needed to help develop the Digital Age, and more events like this can only help spread the message about the exciting opportunities and challenges available.

Talent MichaelMichael Czerniak started his professional career in the semiconductor industry with Philips, initially in the company’s UK R+D labs and subsequently in the fab in Nijmegen, Holland. He then held marketing roles at UK-based OEMs Cambridge Instruments, VSW and VG Semicon before joining Edwards 21 years ago.

Michael has authored numerous published articles and patents, co-chairs a SEMI standards committee, participates in the IRDS, is a UK PFC expert on IPCC and has authored chapters on Vacuum and Environmental issues in the Semiconductor Manufacturing Handbook. Michael became a Professor in the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol in September 2018.


Serena Brischetto is a marketing and communications manager at SEMI Europe.