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CPES lab innovates chip packaging and creates pathways for future engineers

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Power electronics packaging plays a vital role in the efficiency of modern electronics. Christina DiMarino, assistant director of the Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES) says that packaging components of semiconductor chips is important for less energy consumption and fewer material costs.  Through internships, Christina hopes to bolster students interested in engineering and help fill a critical need in power electronics packaging.
In CPES, we work on power electronic systems for a variety of applications. From servers and data centers to renewable energy systems and renewable energy integration, as well as electric vehicles and just more electric transportation for aircrafts and ships as well. Power electronics basically serves as like an interface. It allows your phone charger to your phone battery to be charged by the wall outlet. Basically, at the heart of power electronics are the switching semiconductors or transistor. It's like an electronic switch. What we do here is basically take those semiconductor devices and then we package them using advanced materials processes to put them into a form factor that can then be used in the converter. As part of the Chips Act, it's to onshore chips manufacturing in the US, but also packaging is really critical because advanced packaging is really enabling the full usage of those advanced chips. We're hoping that by bringing in more interns and getting students excited about power electronics and especially packaging, that we can really help to build the full ecosystem around power electronics and around chips. Because it's very hands on and applied, I believe that it really sticks in your brain more because there's only so much that you can learn on paper. But you really have to apply it and see this is what a circuit does, like you can see a circuit diagram, but once you actually make one yourself or you start testing for the reliability of those wire bonds, you really see how many different components go into it. And it really helps you wrap your head around it and you start thinking in more dimensions, you start thinking about all the different components more and really immersing yourself in it. My background was just on coding and Python, but coming into this lab and looking around at all the equipment, I definitely know more about electrical engineering now. Like the whole electricity thing was like so abstract to me. But when you actually come in and work with all the equipment and stuff, you definitely like, you actually understand what you're doing and all these abstract topics start making a lot more sense to you. I definitely do want to do more hands on stuff. I think I might go into computer engineering now because the lab is just so cool. It is supposed to be work, but I enjoy my time here. It is fun, it's relaxing, it's very open. And then on top of that, like you have multiple opportunities to experience new things. I'm really grateful for that. It's an amazing opportunity being here. I think working in this lab, it like solidifies exactly what I want to do. Because before this opportunity, before this experience, I didn't know what type of engineering I wanted to do or if engineering was something that I genuinely wanted to do. But working in this lab, working with all of this equipment, knowing that just working with a small piece of equipment is going to make such a big impact on the future and everyone else. It's like a great thing and I think it's really exciting me to do this in the future. The topics we're working on are so advanced. These are topics that even undergraduate students in their senior year don't even really know about. These are all like graduate level topics can definitely be overwhelming at first for an intern, especially those that are just finishing up high school. But I gives them a good insight into really the vast possibilities within electrical engineering and just engineering in general.