Dr. Paola Vega-Castillo

Nationality: Costa Rican
City, Country: Cartago, Costa Rica
Study Program/Degree: PhD in microelectronics, master’s in microelectronics and microsystems
Year of Graduation: 2006
Employer & Position: Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, Vice- President Research

Dr. Vega-Castillo, what motivated you to study at the TUHH, to study the subject that you chose and to choose your profession?
I am an electrical engineer. I chose this profession because I wanted to learn a lot about physics and mathematics and would then also have good job prospects in Costa Rica. A former TUHH professor, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Otto Lange, visited the university where I was studying and told me about the international master’s program at the TUHH. I then applied to the DAAD for a scholarship.

What was for you an unforgettable experience during your time at the TUHH?
It was when I received from the manufacturer the first integrated circuit I had designed myself. To hold it in my hand after all the long, hard work at the computer was a marvelous experience.

What could distract you at any time from learning?
Nothing really. I am always and constantly learning from many other subject areas. I am interested, for instance, in what is going on in the universe. That is why I regularly read and look at what scientists discover about it and what theories they come up with nowadays. The same goes for the micro- and the nano-cosmos, which has a direct bearing on my own subject.

What do you use in your career that you studied at the TUHH?
A great deal. I have to work with scientists from many different disciplines. To do so, the combination of microelectronics and microsystems technology and other areas of science is most advantageous.

What is the greatest thing about your job?
Seeing how scientists’ new ideas take shape and go on to become reality. I find it exciting how technology and solutions are deployed in Costa Rica, for example to solve problems and tasks.

What does your typical working day look like and which competences do you need for it?
I normally hold many discussions with scientific personnel to devise new ideas and projects or to find out how projects are progressing and if need be to take them forward with thought-provoking ideas. We must plan and implement strategies, evaluate projects and ideas. On the other hand I must represent my university in dealings with the government, the different industry and university bodies and, finally, at public events. My university is a state institution. In addition to my subject-related competences I need a great deal of patience, stamina, leadership qualities, inspiration, willingness to work and enthusiasm. What is most important for me, however, is to start the day with delight und optimism.

I would love to exchange a day with …
… a highly talented pianist or opera singer.

What would you ask an omniscient researcher from the future?
What is the overall equation that explains the behavior of the universe?

What was your favorite meal at the mensa back then?
Fish with jacket potatoes – and cheesecake, especially because we don’t have any real cheesecake here. At open-air events I have always enjoyed German sausages – and I still do!

If you were President of the TUHH…
… I would try to create more temporary posts for visiting professors and scientists at the TUHH in order to strengthen international relations and academic exchange with TUHH alumni.