The University of Yaoundé is located on a hill full of palm trees in the Ngoa Ekélé district. 50,000 Cameroonians study art and medicine, natural and social sciences here. The city center below the campus is characterized by an abundance of street vendors, yellow cabs, new concrete buildings and historic wooden houses. From here it is just under 300 kilometers to the Atlantic and exactly 7341 kilometers to Oberkochen. A vast distance – and Marc bridged it.
Reaching for the stars
In 2001, he began studying physics at the Faculty of Science. He had a clear goal in mind: "For a long time, my parents' house had neither water nor electricity. Not to mention a telephone or the Internet. But in Cameroon there are many fighters who want to make a difference, who are looking for and finding their place in the world." Marc is one of them. And so he did his bachelor's degree in physics and remembers: "My studies were mainly theory-based and consisted mainly of mathematics and abstract physics. Practical projects were a rarity. That's why, after completing my bachelor's degree in Yaoundé, I looked to build up knowledge based on practical experiences – and found the opportunity in Europe in 2005." Marc subsequently studied in Kaiserslautern and in Rouen. With his mechanical engineering diploma in his pocket, he spent the next few years working in the aerospace industry. "This had its own appeal for me. It was like reaching for the stars. But then the pandemic came and all planes were grounded. This was a sign for me to look for a new challenge."
Technology for people
As a project manager in plant engineering in the aerospace industry, Marc had previous contact with ZEISS. He successfully applied for a job in manufacturing. "What attracts me to ZEISS is working on breakthrough technology that can improve people's lives. Environmental projects and infrastructure, communications and new mobility concepts – all of these rely on microchips. ZEISS is playing a pioneering role here and we in the semiconductor manufacturing technology segment are right at the forefront. This technology also helps my country and my family. Meanwhile, with the help of the latest microchips, my parents' house is not only electrified, but even their solar system can be controlled remotely."
Butter and dust
Today, Marc works in optics manufacturing at ZEISS. As a project manager, he accompanies the path of high-performance mirrors through production – from material delivery to customer delivery. In the process, the optics pass through many stations over a period of months. For example, the pre-contouring and fine contouring, polishing and coating, as well as numerous measurements. "Some mirrors slip through production like butter, others need more attention," Marc says with a smile. "But I know each and every one, that's my job. I coordinate and monitor processes, report to management and customers, and initiate action when unforeseen events occur." What might such events look like? Marc ponders for a moment and then talks about dust particles and high humidity, nanometer-fine scratches, software crashes and effects of a pandemic. Yet so far he has been able to master every challenge.
It takes several months for a set of mirrors to be completed and handed over to the internal customer, the Integration department. In addition to large mirrors for semiconductor manufacturing technology, Marc also takes care of smaller optics for measuring machines. "The variety, the level of technology and at the same time the benefits of my work are unique, all things considered. And all that while cooperating in an international team. This is where different cultures and temperaments meet to drive a project forward together. Everyone brings their strengths and experience to the table. Together we're stronger."
The variety, the level of technology and at the same time the benefits of my work are unique, all things considered.
With so much in common – what is Marc missing at ZEISS? He laughs: "Actually, just Ndolé, the national dish of Cameroon: Spinach with peanuts, spices and plantains. Sadly, that hasn't been on the menu in our cafeteria yet."