Matthew Hartensveld’s pathway to microelectronic engineering had an unlikely beginning: a friend’s broken Xbox 360 game system.
“He did not have the money to repair it. I wanted to help him out and I began ‘Googling’ how to fix it. I ended up being able to repair it for him and from that success, started my own business repairing gaming consoles,” he shares. Hartensveld’s fledgling business led to an increased interest in circuitry, which was further fueled by encouragement from technology teacher Tim Steen.
When Hartensveld was a student at Eastern Christian School, Steen stepped up to sponsor an independent study, enabling Hartensveld to take an online circuits class from MIT. Graduating high school in 2013, he went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in microelectronic engineering and then a master’s in material science, both earned at the Rochester Institute of Technology. In May 2021, he completed a PhD, fully funded by RIT.
Microelectronic engineering, as Hartensveld describes, is “the fabrication of nanoscale devices.” He explains that these devices are found in many modern-day items, ranging from satellites, to solar panels, to computers, to LED lights. “These devices are fabricated in an ultra-clean environment where special suits are worn and where we operate some of the most complex tools ever invented,” he adds.
Since his time at EC, Hartensveld has received several patents for his work in semiconductor technologies. He has also created micro-LEDs, which he describes as “representing the next generation of display technology that outperforms OLED displays in brightness, efficiency, reliability and resolution.”
He recently founded Innovation Semiconductor, Inc., partnering with a former Kodak executive, and has been honored with the 2023 Emerging Leader award from RIT. He has also recently been nominated for the ‘Semi 20 under 30’ award, a prestigious industry award.
Although the future is bright, he also looks at his past fondly: “The biggest thing Eastern Christian did is give me the space to be myself,” he says. “I am grateful for the foundation I received from EC, where it all started with trying to help a friend repair his Xbox game console. My passion was further supported by great faculty members, like Tim Steen. I encourage students to find and pursue their passion.”