• The Rivers School

Dana Lowitt '23: Brooks Automation

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern for Brooks Automation in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. As a part of the semiconductor industry, Brooks manufactures robots that can be divided into two main categories: atmospheric (ATM) and vacuum. These robots look like giant metal arms and can move in five different dimensions. Their job is to move wafers containing microchips from one place to another. Depending on the buyers' needs, Brooks also builds systems for the robots to move within. The microchips made by the robots are then used in cell phones, computers, cars, and many other things.

An example of one of the robots Brooks Manufactures: a Magnatran Leap.

Throughout my internship, I had the joy of being able to experience a lot of different parts of the company. One of the first things I did was build a wafer test stand with Kevin Twitchell. The stands will be used to perform the small move test, which determines how accurately an end effector (the part of the arm that holds the wafer) can return to a predetermined location. To do this, we first built a stand to hold a camera that tracks the movement of the robot, but the most challenging part came near the end when we had to attach the wheels. Three of the wheels screwed in easily, but the last one wouldn’t move past a certain point. Shout out to Richie Mendes for solving the problem. My first lesson as an engineer was about patient troubleshooting.

The finished product and me assembling the stand that will hold the camera

On a different day, I ran a repeatability test with a test wafer engine. We set up a very precise camera to measure the movement of the robot on a track to see how exact each round of a three-station motion was. We ran the test three times and checked/adjusted the tension in the track after each time using a machine that measured in watts. This robot moves in an X, Y, and Z direction, but we repeatedly tested it in the X-plane.

The track and robot that we tested, called a wafer engine robot

I also got the opportunity to work with the technical writing and marketing division. I sat in on their weekly meeting and listened to their updates. Rick Mistretta and some of his team members were kind enough to talk about everything from technical writing to video training procedures. John Clair then showed us the process behind the technical videos he has created and the camera equipment he uses to make them. The global communications team taught me a lot about their jobs and the company, and I look forward to working with them more in the future.

On another day, I worked with Thea Hudsen who assembles robots in building 11. It was an amazing experience because we actually got to help build a new robot from scratch. Thea is super smart, patient, and funny, which all helped when we couldn't always figure out what we were doing. I learned more about screws, connecting wires, running tests, and thinking outside of the box. She also gave us nicknames. Shout out to Squeaky and Mighty Mouse.

The part of the robot that I built with Thea and Hunter.

In addition to building and testing robots, I worked on a few other projects. I wrote an assignment for legal where I wrote up a memo on ESG Disclosure, a system that allows companies to report data related to the climate. I loved this research project and its ability to showcase another part of the company. In addition, I worked with Dave Schiemer to write a step-by-step manual for printing ATM System Binders. This includes the steps for auditing the kit (meaning the parts needed to build the robot) and what needs to be printed, including drawings, trackers, and stickers. Lastly, it was amazing to talk with Joan Delgadillo about his career in engineering and his experience at Brooks.

I’m super grateful for this opportunity to intern at Brooks this summer. Special thanks to Richie Mendes, Rick Mistretta, Jay Clair, Dorthea, and Ralph Savarese (for getting my word document to stop autocorrecting into Swedish!)