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Takashi Ishiwata

application engineer, ASML Japan

For an application engineer, good communications is an important ability you must have. It might not sound like an engineering skill, but application engineers are in the middle of the technology and customer support at ASML. We work with many colleagues, who have different roles, skills and personalities, and we're the first point of contact for customers.

Good communication skills help me get to the root of a customer's problem. And it means I can get the information I need to solve it. That's why my most important tool is my computer. It translates my knowledge and ideas into something I can share with customers and colleagues. Without it, I'd be lost!

Communication is a two-way process. I spend as much of my time as possible listening to customers. The ideas and experience that come from these discussions can sow the seeds for the next big business opportunity for ASML. So being in front of the customer as an application engineer can really contribute to our future direction.

I joined ASML in 2006, when the company was just starting to penetrate the Japanese lithography market. As a Japanese person, this made it a very exciting time to join.

But the main reason I moved to ASML was so I could work with TWINSCAN - the world's most advanced lithography system. The functionality and level of engineering is really incredible. A TWINSCAN system can print thousands of lines and spaces in the width of a human hair. And the synchronization between two key components,the wafer and reticle stages, is the equivalent of flying two jumbo jets side by side just millimeters apart!

I find the semiconductor industry is the hottest business in the world. Almost all electrical devices have microchips these days: cell phones, computers, music players - even TVs, fridges and washing machines. So the performance of TWINSCAN systems affects nearly everyone, and that performance relies on all kinds of technology. As an application engineer, you have to be familiar with it all.

ASML has a very young and dynamic atmosphere; it's not set in its ways like some big companies. Positive thinking, flexibility and, most of all, energy are important for success here. But with them, you get a lot of opportunities.

I'm soon going to move into a new role as TWINSCAN NXT Project Leader. Joining ASML and working with TWINSCAN, I felt as if I was standing on top of the semiconductor industry. Now I will be working with the next-generation, highest-performing TWINSCAN systems - the best of the best, you could say. For an engineer and technology buff, that's a fantastic challenge.

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