Identifying, diagnosing and ultimately eliminating errors are tasks that are second nature to an electrical engineer like Steffen. These are also tasks that he began performing 11 years ago at his own life, when he realized: "I don't just want to fix systems. I want to develop them myself and be part of the process from start to finish." This allows him to identify the "error" – simply being presented with a finished product isn't really his thing. So what's his diagnosis? "I'm a passionate developer. Simply working as an electrical engineer didn't excite me enough." That's when he decided to pursue his passion.
I don't just want to fix systems. I want to develop them myself and be part of the process from start to finish.
"Nevertheless, my apprenticeship to become an electrical engineer at ZEISS was definitely the right decision," he says. During this time, he became familiar with a variety of departments, tried out different things and decided how he wanted his career to develop. "After spending a year working in electronics maintenance, I quickly realized that I wanted to be involved in developing technologies." So Steffen spoke to his colleagues and to his then boss, and found the support he was seeking. He then began studying, earning his bachelor's in electrical engineering and his master's in informatics.
Today, Steffen works in - you guessed it - development at the ZEISS Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology segment. More specifically, in the Automation department. Steffen focuses on the progressive automation of production and measuring processes for EUV mirrors. EUV technology can be used to produce much more high-performance and energy-efficient microchips than ever before. So you could say Steffen is one of the people making high technology possible.
And he's doing this in a host of disciplines. "I feel right at home developing the electronics for measuring machines, but I can also write the software that goes with it." And that's exactly how he integrates his ideas into entire machine systems.
"This is also one of the biggest projects I'm lucky enough to be working on right now, i.e. setting up a highly complex measuring machine to qualify mirrors," he explains. This work requires a steady hand and real expertise. It's a job for inventors and people who don't shy away from a challenge. That's because precision and accuracy are crucial here: If you were to blow up the mirrors being measured to cover the size of Germany, the biggest bump would be just 0.1 millimeters high. These are the world's most precise mirrors. And Steffen and his colleagues know that this precision ultimately hinges on their efforts, for instance in how their machine make it possible to measure mirrors in a vacuum.
"This task was a totally new ask for me, as it wasn't something I'd previously been focusing on. But, I stepped up and am now enjoying the work immensely," says Steffen, referencing an aspect that he very much values at ZEISS: the opportunity to expand his skill set, develop professionally and experience new things. "This makes my work incredibly varied and it means I can switch between various disciplines." Electrical engineering and software development really do go hand in hand in his line of work.
For Steffen, the chance to help develop complex and innovative technologies for ZEISS is something that has him floating on cloud nine. "I'm originally from here in the Ostalb region and had heard a lot of good things about ZEISS before I started my apprenticeship here," he says, adding: "And it has all turned out to be true! ZEISS has always been a trustworthy employer. My bosses and colleagues were always happy to lend an ear and encouraged me to develop my skill set so that I could make progress in my career and advance it just as I wanted to."
But it's not just the opportunity to achieve his goals that drives Steffen: "For me, one of the most important things is to be able to do something meaningful." Steffen is most certainly a passionate developer.