#AlumoftheWeek — Lucien Penlap Woguia, AIMS Senegal ‘14

Since 2003, the mandate of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences has been to search through Africa, identifying its brightest and most brilliant students and presenting the best of opportunities in this world to them. At AIMS, we believe talent is abundant, but the same cannot be said of opportunities. The AIMS model brings these students closer to world-class professors who serve as life coaches and provide guidance that leads to several career paths. This week, in our #AlumoftheWeek series, we share the story of Lucien Penlap Woguia, a 2014 AIMS Senegal alumnus who currently serves as a Design Engineer at ASML Netherlands B. V.

From Edea, Cameroon, Lucien has been one who has always been excited about Physics and Mathematics. He holds a Professional Aptitude Certificate in Electricity and Electrical Engineering from the Technical High School of Edea. He holds a degree in Physics and its Applications and a Master’s from the University of Douala. Before joining AIMS, Lucien had been at the University of Yaounde I for a Master’s program in Material Physics. Lucien’s academic superpowers were identified in his early days as he was named one of the few participants of the Excellence Fellowship for Best Students, awarded by the President of Cameroon, three years in a row (2011,2012 and 2013).

Lucien joined AIMS Senegal in 2013 for his Master’s in Mathematical Sciences. A new experience for him as it takes him off his comfort zone of Physics to Mathematics and its applications. The culture at AIMS opened him up to many other opportunities and exposed him to like-minded individuals full of energy and creativity, willing to change the situation in Africa.

“My journey at AIMS made me believe that everything can be achieved in Africa. AIMS allowed me to dream big and allowed me the opportunity to deploy my wings and take off! Compared to other academic institutions in Africa, where students are left alone, AIMS supports all its students in whatever goals are to the letter. All an individual needs to survive at AIMS is strong self-motivation and a determined spirit to face all challenges”.

Lucien graduated in 2014 with Distinction and started his journey towards fulfilling his dreams. With a contribution from the AIMS-Senegal Foundation grant to the best student, he started a programme in the Electronic and Mechanical Engineering department of the Polytechnic School of Tours (France). For his PhD studies, he enrolled in Nanotechnology and Material Physics at CEA-LETI (Atomic Energy Commission), MINATEC European Campus and European Synchrotron (ESRF) in 2019 – Grenoble. In particular, he experimented with the use of a particle accelerator, cutting-edge ion beam instruments and microscopy techniques to probe and characterize doping of 3D nanostructures, namely 3D transistors or FinFETs—this required background in physics, mathematics, material engineering and computing. This PhD project won him several worldwide awards, including;

  •  Symposium Assistant stipend, awarded by the Materials Research Society (MRS), Boston (USA), 2018
  •  Best conference paper + Michel-Cantarel Scholarship, awarded by the French Vacuum Society (SFV) during the Ion Beam Application (IBAF) conference in 2016 and 2018.

The financial support I received from the AIMS Senegal Foundation Grant after my AIMS degree made me return to the Centre to give back during my PhD studies. I learnt this from my supervisor, who was in the habit of helping students at the Centre.”

Beyond his PhD studies, Lucien continued developing Artificial Intelligence methods applied to nanotechnologies for a Postdoc framework in the European 4.0 Industrial project at CEA-LETI and LTM. The exposure received during his Postdoc programme opened several doors of opportunities in the nanotechnology industries which finally took him to the Netherlands. He joined TMC Nanotechnologies in Eindhoven from 2020 to 2021 as Research and Development Engineer and Consultant. He was later appointed as a Design Engineer at ASML Netherlands B.V. in the Soft X-ray project. ASML is the world leading company in making the most powerful EUV & DUV lithography machines that make chips used in our everyday lives.

“After studying in some high-level places worldwide and being part of the world’s biggest company that monitors the ‘Chip Policies’ of several governments nowadays, I can say this is a dream come true. And this is just a step in the fulfilment of my goals.”

As a scientisit, Lucien considers deeply understanding what one does, how to leverage it and make it concretely profitable to the world as his greatest challenge. But this, he firmly believes, can only be overcome through hard work. His love for high-tech and nanotechnology makes him more curious, which underpins all he does. For youth in Africa aspiring to be like him, he shares these few words:

“Never chase neither money nor grades, but knowledge. Knowledge will build your reputation, and that is worths than money and grades. Always remember that life is a fight. One that you may win or lose, and never let anyone stop you from fulfilling your dreams.