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Valuing Internationality: A Senior Principal Engineer Talks Intel’s Plans to Grow in Europe

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We recently talked with Harald Gossner, a senior principal engineer at Intel Germany, about his extensive experience and how he created an international council that sets standards for the whole ESD industry, as well as what Intel’s plans have to do with strengthening Europe’s innovation capabilities.


What's your role at Intel? 

I am a senior principal engineer at Intel Germany in Munich. My team ensures that Intel products can be successfully manufactured in external foundries. Our division has an extensive background of working for the wireless business group and supporting their external manufacturing strategy. We have moved into a corporate function and are now covering a wide range of core products of Intel.


What has your career path been like so far? 

I’m in the field of electrostatic discharge protection (ESD) design. This is the subject in which I’ve developed my expertise for over 25 years. I started my career at a semiconductor company, grew in this field as a team leader and became a principal engineer at a company that was acquired by Intel in 2011. Since then, I have been overseeing the design of ESD protection at Intel. There are other areas in which I engage, especially in collaborations with external research partners, e.g., security and machine learning. I’m working with the Technical University of Munich, and I am involved with U.S. academic institutions like Georgia Tech and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I also supervised students from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Besides that, I am dedicated to the growth of education in the field of ESD. For many years I have been engaged in the EOS/ESD Association, where I am currently the president.


So you also supervise R&D beyond your local site? 

That’s an exciting part of my story. Over the years, I’ve developed many relationships with external R&D partners, universities and research organizations. In my field, I am often confronted with the need for more fundamental innovations and to develop an understanding of device physics. This drives me to engage with external research partners. One example is working with Georgia Tech on machine learning, to help improve electrostatic discharge protection circuits. Another topic of my research, with ETH Zürich, is on the simulation of high current density in our components, which can heat up to the melting point of silicon.


What do you enjoy most about Intel, both from the work perspective and the culture perspective? 

It’s extremely exciting that you get to work with the most advanced technologies. The biggest ‘wow’ moment was when I transferred from the previous company. At Intel, you work in an environment of top-notch technologies. For an engineer, like myself, it’s an amazing playground for coming up with innovations. Beyond that, I have remarkable colleagues around the globe, with whom I really love to work. I’m in close collaboration with the Hillsboro site in Oregon, U.S., where the Logic Technology Development team sits. I also work with our wonderful team members in Bangalore, India. There’s a lot of exchanging ideas, good people around, interesting topics. All this makes work exciting and inspiring. If you’re a techie, you’ll love it.


Is there a success story that you are particularly proud of? 

I’ll give an example where I think we really moved the needle in the industry. In my field, there are two scenarios of electrostatic discharge that can be quite harmful to integrated circuits (IC). One is where you have a discharge directly to the IC, during manufacturing and another where you, as the end-user, touch the computer and there’s a discharge to the electronic device. Part of the discharge to the computer must be handled by our IC components. Designing ESD protection of the IC only can take up a lot of silicon area, money and resources. Several years ago, I formed an industry council, and we developed a new design approach to balance the effort on IC and system design. We called it the system efficient ESD design (SEED). Applying this methodology allows the development of a cost optimized system-level ESD protection throughout the stages of a system design. It is widely acknowledged and the whole industry is benefitting from this. I’m chair of this council, and we’ve been defining the industry strategy for ESD targets for almost 15 years. We managed to make ESD design more harmonized and more efficient across the industry.


I guess this answers the question of how the technologies you work on affect the day-by-day life of most people in the world.

Yes, this has become a worldwide standard now and each and every IC on earth has to have this protection. Whether it’s a processor, an RF component or analog component, everything has ESD protection. No piece of semiconductor in the world can be manufactured and operated without it.


Could you tell us more about a project you’re working on now? 

I’m on the board helping the EU ecosystem grow, along with Intel’s multi-billion investment in the manufacturing site in Europe. Since I’m collaborating with many research organizations, I’m involved in bringing them together to help grow this ecosystem, especially in the IC design space. We don’t have enough resources in the design of leading-edge technologies in Europe. Intel’s new manufacturing site will have a huge positive impact.


Do you have any advice for people who would like to join the tech world—and Intel? 

Be curious and persistent. Without curiosity, you don't have the thrill of searching for interesting new solutions. At some point, you’ll discover that things can get difficult, that’s when you’ll need persistence to lead your project to success. Joining Intel offers countless opportunities worldwide. It’s a unique universe of technology that you can explore and a perfect place to learn, to interact, to grow and to figure out new solutions for challenging problems. All in an atmosphere of respect and fruitful collaboration.


And what kinds of candidates are Intel Germany looking for? 

The new manufacturing site will become a reality soon, so we’ll be looking for people that know semiconductor technology and understand semiconductor physics. An understanding of the modern IC design, the methodology and the complexity of the design tools are important skills. We have all kinds of job roles at Intel Germany. Other than the upcoming roles, we offer positions in Sales and Marketing, Intel Labs, Security Experts and Technology Enablement. Right now, we’re relatively small compared to other sites, but given the plans we have, we will need hundreds of new colleagues soon.


There are talented engineers all over Europe. Why should they come to work at Intel in Munich? 

Over the last few years many tech companies have built sites in Munich and there are several reasons for that. First, you have an excellent workforce here, and you have an international atmosphere combined with a relaxed lifestyle. There’s beautiful nature, many lakes around and it’s a thirty-minute drive to the Alps. The city’s atmosphere, safety and general ambience are extraordinary. Most inhabitants speak English, so you can communicate easily. Plus, we have great Intel sites. I work at Campeon, which is in the midst of lovely meadows, surrounded by small ponds. It’s very international, with more than 80 nationalities represented at the campus. And the Intel Germany leadership team is very engaged in creating a good atmosphere at work.


Want to work in an international and supportive environment? Explore job opportunities at Intel Germany.



1 Comment

Great to see the amount of international collaboration mentioned here toward the goal of designing ESD protection.