In The Spotlight: Keerthigan Shanmuganathan

May 30th 2024 

Production operator Keerthigan Shanmuganathan talks about big changes in his life and his Sri Lankan roots 

 

It has been a big year for Keerthigan Shanmuganathan. He began working at PHIX in October 2023 and, in a way, the new job also started a new chapter in his life. “On the same Monday I started working at PHIX, I also got the keys to the house I’d just bought together with my girlfriend. That was a very intense day,” he says. And it’s not about to get any quieter. Keerthi’s girlfriend is pregnant, and the couple is only a few weeks away from welcoming a baby boy. “I’m super excited! I have just finished the baby room.” It was his personal project, says Keerthi. “I did everything in the style of Harry Potter – from the wallpaper to a big brass light fixture in the shape of an owl.”

Keerthi loves putting things together – whether that is doing house renovations, cooking elaborate dinners on Sunday afternoons, or assembling photonic integrated circuits at work. At PHIX, he works as a wire bonding production operator. In simple terms, he makes connections between chips and printed circuit boards using gold wires. This is extremely precise work involving wires much thinner than a human hair, explains Keerthi. “Since I was a kid, I have been fascinated by electronics, gears, mechanics.” Which is also why he enjoys his job. “At PHIX, I have the chance to work with the newest state-of-the-art equipment. For example, we were one of the first in the whole world to work with a certain 3D microfabrication machine. That just blows my mind.”

Wire bonding operator Keerthi

“At PHIX, I have the chance to work with the newest state-of-the-art equipment. For example, we were one of the first in the whole world to work with a certain 3D microfabrication machine. That just blows my mind.”

“PHIX gives you a lot of room to develop yourself,” says Keerthi. Furthermore, he is happy to find himself in a more international environment. “The colleagues at my previous employer were all very Twents and closed off. I found it hard to get fully accepted within the group,” says Keerthi. “At PHIX, the team is very open and welcoming. It’s easy to connect with people.”

Keerthi has international roots himself. Although he has lived in Twente since he was three years old, he was born in Sri Lanka, a country he has carried with him. “I still have a bit of Sri Lanka in me,” he says. “I remember bits and pieces of it. For example, I remember being scared when fighter jets would fly over. It wasn’t safe in Sri Lanka at the time.”

Setting up a wire bonding machine

Keerthi is very happy in Twente, though. “It’s very down to earth and there is beautiful nature. I’ve visited Sri Lanka with my parents several times, and it’s just so different from the Netherlands. I can’t even compare it. The quality of life in Twente is so different. You get used to luxuries, which seem very normal in Twente but that you suddenly miss in Sri Lanka. Basic things like clean water and toilets. On the other hand, as soon as you are back you start missing Sri Lankan food,” he smiles.  

Are you interested in a career at PHIX?

As a rapidly growing integrated photonics packaging foundry we are always looking for new talent. Even if our current job openings aren’t an exact fit, we are eager to meet promising candidates who are experienced in photonics.

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