Meet David Knowles, the Vice President of the Product Development Group (PDG) and a veteran of the laser and semiconductor industry for 33 years.
David leads the Product Development team, composed of engineers and program managers that develop new DUV laser products.
“Our team spans twelve different engineering disciplines, and is composed of roughly 100 individuals. We work in program teams that are organized around the development of a specific new product. For example, the XLR-860 Program will ship the first new system to ASML in July. The teams are led by a Product Development Manager, and are made up of individuals from around the company that work together to define the product, develop the necessary technology, and transition the new product to manufacturing and the field. We currently have thirteen new products in development or release.”
A La Jolla native, David moved to Los Angeles during his high school years, then to New York to receive his bachelor’s degree in Applied & Engineering Physics from Cornell University. After working on oil wells in Indonesia and Egypt, David moved to Massachusetts to complete his Ph.D. in Physics from MIT. In 1991, David took a leap and moved to Sydney, Australia to work as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Macquarie University (where he first met Danny Brown, a future Cymer employee). They worked together for three years developing new types of gas & solid state lasers. After finishing his post doc, David moved back stateside to San Diego for a job at Naval Research out on the end of Point Loma. He worked as a Program Manager developing new environmental sensors based on UV laser technology.
“I was working in environmental sensing technology at the time, and saw an ad in the newspaper that Cymer was hiring. I thought that the semiconductor industry might be more fast paced and technology friendly than the environmental industry. In most industries, it is difficult to get customers to change and adopt something new. In semiconductor equipment, the problem was that customers wanted new products before the design was even complete. If you had a better way to do something, the semiconductor industry would embrace it.”
David started working for Cymer in June 1997 as an Optical Engineer (reporting to Igor Fomenkov). Over the course of 20 years, he worked as a Program Manager, Technical Manager, Director/VP of Marketing, and as the CEO of TCZ, a joint venture between Cymer and Zeiss.
“Highlights in my career at Cymer were working as Program Manager for my first product, the ELS-5010, and then later as the Program Manager for the XLA-100, the first two-chamber system. Both were great learning opportunities, and provided an opportunity to meet people across the company. I would also highlight working as part of the TCZ startup as a terrific experience. It’s uncommon to experience starting a company from scratch, particularly with the support from two strong parent companies.”
David also has a number of patents in various types of laser technology, most associated with making improvements to various types of Cymer lasers, although a few involve display manufacturing and solid state laser designs.
“I personally love the challenge of developing complex products with very challenging technology, and Cymer has consistently provided those opportunities. I’ve also appreciated the chance to work with the diverse international cultures represented by our employees and customers, and have enjoyed the collaborative nature of the Cymer culture. Finally, I like periodic changes in my job responsibilities, and Cymer has been very supportive in allowing me to purse my interests and work in different parts of the company. You won’t find a better company that combines challenging technology, engaged customers, and a strong and positive corporate culture.”
Outside of work, David is an avid cyclist, occasional swimmer, and a long-time fan of yoga, and a beginning watercolorist. He can be found in the garden most weekends.