Sometimes getting Christmas gifts from your parents brings you joy, and sometimes not. From getting clothes that don't fit to the concert tickets you've been wanting for ages, there's quite a wide gap between what constitutes a useless - or a very useful - gift. That's why Lukas is so happy to receive small cash gifts – gifts he's been saving up for a few years now so that he can make one of his long-awaited dreams come true: "I've been fantasizing about buying a 3D printer since I was at uni. So you can imagine how proud I was when it finally arrived," he says, beaming. If you're wondering what the first thing he printed was, that would be a tractor - one with an electric engine he installed himself and controls via an app. "In my spare time, I just love tinkering with and combining mechanics with electronics." So it's a good job he's made a career out of it!
After all, it's not just athletes or creatives who can turn their hobby into their career. Engineers can do it, too - and Lukas is a prime example of that. Today, the trainee program at ZEISS allows him to utilize his hobby in a range of important projects - while learning something new every day. And that's exactly what he was looking for.
While studying at Ilmenau University of Technology, Lukas worked with special actuators and sensors. And while working toward his master's in mechatronics, he was involved in a project that saw him designing, building and programming an automated control unit for a robot. Such a complex system can only work if the mechanics and electronics are in perfect harmony. Lukas finds this fascinating. So much so, in fact, that he wants to gain more knowledge in this field. But with his sights set on a PhD position, he's having second thoughts about the future: "Do I really want to do academic research, write papers and compile educational documents?"
The combination of scientific research and direct practical implementation in high technology is just what I'm looking for.
But the inherent need to bring his ideas to life continues to stir within him. The question is, how can he combine this with another qualification? "It might sound like the stuff movies are made of, but when I considered my current role in combination with the trainee program, I thought: eureka!"
What's special about the Global Graduate Program (GGP), ZEISS' trainee program, is that it can be tailored to prepare the trainees for their future role. The program is tailored to the needs of each trainee and their future duties – and Lukas has his eye on a role at Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology. "The combination of scientific research and direct practical implementation in high technology is just what I'm looking for," he says. Especially in terms of his further development.
As an embedded systems engineer, Lukas acts as the interface between electronics and mechanics. His duties include ensuring that electronic components and circuit boards are deployed in the right place, i.e. in modules that will later be installed in machines used to produce microchips. And these come with some very complex requirements indeed. After all, in order to produce microchips later on you need tools like a vacuum and extreme ultraviolet light (EUV light). "Challenging requirements like these can only really be found in space travel, and they're incredibly exciting!" What's more, taking project responsibility helps him build on his specialist knowledge.
At the same time, Lukas' international and cross-divisional assignments mean he gets to see the wider world, learn about new technologies and grow his professional network. "It was important for me to be able to learn a lot at the beginning of my career. And that's something I get to do here every day, on many different levels."
Lukas also has a few ideas about what he wants to do once he completes the trainee program. After all, the Global Graduate Program gives its alumni the perfect stepping stone for quickly assuming responsibility afterwards, and not only on the managerial level. "The expert and project ladders offer natural scientists and engineers like us some truly fantastic prospects," he says. As an equivalent to the management ladder, they can develop into subject specialists or manage individual projects – without having to assume responsibility for an entire team.
But first, Lukas will be focusing on further expanding his skills by taking on ever more projects in the Global Graduate Program to ensure that he continues to learn new things. So he'll be taking the next step at ZEISS and continuing to derive pleasure from integrating his hobby into his job. After all, isn't that what he was looking for all along?