A window in the clean room

Abbie (Carlstein) Gregg ’74 remembers giving the lab glove to her undergraduate research at MIT. There wasn’t anything small enough to fit him, at a time when undergraduate men outnumbered women on campus 15 to 1. However, this was the first time he had met other women who were interested. in engineering and technology – and he quickly found the home of the Metallurgy Department (now Materials Science and Engineering). Four decades later, Gregg has made a career in designing clean rooms and labs for semiconductor manufacturing and research around the world.

At MIT, Gregg was attracted to semiconductors. For his thesis, he and collaborators sent semiconductor crystals into space at NASA’s Skylab to test the theory that gravity causes inequality in crystal growth, which they predicted could lead to functional defects. in the circuit because the chips become more complex. “We took the crystals back to the Earth and we measured them, and we were sure they were pretty much the same,” he recalls; Meanwhile, those they grow on Earth “have all the inequalities.” Gregg will repeat this work as a “thought out experiment” for an aerospace company exploring the manufacture of the space device.

After MIT, Gregg worked at Fairchild Semiconductor to improve its manufacturing. Through conversations with workers, “I’m interested in the built environment, and in optimizing human factors and product yield,” he said.

Gregg began designing semiconductor manufacturing plants, spending about 10 years as a “startup junkie” at various companies before founding Abbie Gregg, Inc. The company completed about 850 projects, primarily for university, industry, and government labs, before it was acquired in 2019. through AM Technical Solutions (where Gregg is now chief technology officer). She strives to make spaces safe, usable, and enjoyable beautifully, with plenty of windows and natural light. “People don’t put windows in clean rooms because they say‘ We don’t want to look like an industrial area, ”Gregg said.“ But if a clean room doesn’t it’s beautiful to look at, there’s something wrong with it; it’s not well planned or it’s not going well. “

One of Gregg’s favorite projects brings him back to where he started: MIT. He did the initial planning and design for the clean rooms and lab at MIT.nano, MIT’s new residence for nanotech research. Shortly after it opened, he visited campus for his 45th reunion in 2019. “I stopped and watched the new graduates enter that building and be shown to their parents. , “he recalls. “That’s the most strange feeling. That is my legacy. ”

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