Lorain County Community College student and laboratory technician for LCCC’s micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) training laboratory, John Bukovac, reaches for the stars — and he landed as a recent recipient for the NASA/Ohio Space Grant Consortium Community College Scholarship.
The NASA scholarship, funded through the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program with support from LCCC, will be used toward his associate degree in mechatronics technology through the MEMS program.
“I feel very honored to have been chosen for the award,” Bukovac said. “I hope that the research that I do for the scholarship is something that I can be proud of and that it gives LCCC the same pride when we are mentioned by NASA. We have a great college and I am going to do my best to represent it.”
Bukovac, 48, will complete a research project and attend the OSGC Student Symposium and present his research from the project in March at the Ohio Aerospace Institute in Cleveland. The Oberlin resident plans to work on his project under direction of his faculty adviser, Johnny Vanderford, which involves the fabrication of a hybrid thick film circuit with MEMS functionality and could potentially include a flexible circuit that could be considered to be a wearable device.
Bukovac transitioned into MEMS after a career as an electrician. When his cousin graduated from the MEMS program at LCCC, Bukovac was going through health issues, and said he couldn’t continue working his current job. His cousin suggested that he consider looking into a career in MEMS so he visited an information session with Vanderford, he said.
“And that was all it took. I signed up for classes a couple of days later and the rest is history,” Bukovac said. “I encourage anyone with any interest is sciences to at least come a check out one of the info sessions to see what we’re all about. There are a lot of really interesting, exciting, and fun things that go on in our lab.”
Bukovac’s laboratory role at the on-campus Center for Microelectronic Sensor Fabrication includes equipment operation maintenance, protocol and safety documentation, inventory of consumables and assistance in training students in equipment operation, said Vanderford. Bukovac has been active in cleanroom protocol training, microscopy, microelectronic packaging and is currently training in silicon wafer processing including photolithography, thin film sputtering and wafer handling.
His capstone project that is part of his degree requires him to design, implement, engineer and test a thick film hybrid circuit with surface mount devices and MEMS devices. Bukovac is also part of the LCCC Surface Mount Technology Association student chapter and hosts student study groups for MEMS classes.
In the future, Bukovac hopes to move forward in an expanded role in the lab once when he finishes his associate degree, he said. “My plan is to finish my bachelor’s degree (once the program at LCCC is approved by the state as one of the first of its kind in Ohio) in MEMS and continue working in the lab as the technician with aspirations of becoming lab manager in the future,” he said.