GSF Program


The Graduate Student Fellow (GSF) program provides hand’s on opportunities for Penn Engineering Master’s students in the nanotechnology program. Students receive hands-on, practical experience in the Singh facilities, obtaining valuable insight to process development, cleanroom hygiene and teamwork principles. GSF’s are encouraged to be independent problem solvers and to leverage one another to acquire new skill sets on the available tools in our facilities. The goal of the GSF program is two-fold. First, the participants are afforded a unique cleanroom experience that is tailored to their interest and strengths. As a team, they build a community and relationships that extend beyond the lab. Second, the Singh Center assumes the overhead cost to train aspiring process engineers and scientists, removing the burden from hiring industry managers or research faculty in the nanotech space that are actively looking for talent with minimal cleanroom experience. The program has mentored over 15 students and plans to hire additional new students in the near future.

Project Focus

Students work on a variety of projects for up to 7 hours per week. Projects fall into one of four categories: advanced process integration, thin film engineering, lithography engineering or soft lithography engineering. Advanced process engineering includes, but is not limited to directed self-assembly, SU-8 to SU-8 wafer bonding or micro-patterning of silver nanoparticle ink. Thin film engineering involves etch and deposition characterization of the various evaporator, sputter or etch tools that are available. Lithography engineering projects develop advanced turnkey processes for electron beam lithography, laser lithography, 3D printing and nanoimprint lithography. Finally, soft lithography engineering pushes the limits on microfluidic fabrication capabilities using advanced tools like laser micromachining and laser direct write lithography.

Project Performance, Documentation and Professional Development

During the summer, each student provides a weekly update in a short 5 minute presentation. The aim is to develop each participant so that they can effectively communicate their project to others while documenting their progress. In their report, they are required to discuss issues they have encountered and teachable moments they discovered. As newcomers to a cleanroom, mistakes are recognized as valued opportunities. For selected projects, unit processes are documented further and posted to Scholarly Commons (, the University of Pennsylvania’s open access institutional repository for gathering, indexing, storing, and making widely available the scholarly output of the Penn community.