Research scientist devotes career to silicon carbide industry and creating sustainable energy

This is the fourth in a series of articles about SK Siltron CSS and what its investment in Bay County means for the Great Lakes Bay Region. On April 20, Route Bay City will highlight Bryan Draves, Research and Development Technician.

It’s go time for the silicon carbide semiconductor industry — and Edward Sanchez couldn’t be happier.

“It gives me great satisfaction to see the technology that I have helped build through my career become a fundamental building block to the next stage in transportation and a more sustainable energy solution,” says Sanchez, Vice President of Operations and Technology at Bay County’s SK Siltron CSS.

Graphic courtesy of SK Ciltron CSSThe company is Michigan’s only producer of silicon carbide wafers and one of only about 10 globally. Demand is skyrocketing around the world for these wafers used to power electric vehicles and other high-tech devices.

To meet that demand, SK Siltron CSS invested in two manufacturing plants in Bay County: An existing facility in Williams Township in 2019 and a second one it constructed in 2022 in Monitor Township’s Valley Center Technology Park.

It was silicon carbide wafer research and development that in 2004 brought Sanchez, a New York native, to the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Sanchez, who holds a doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering, worked in the early 2000s as a Senior Research Scientist for a Connecticut silicon carbide wafer manufacturer. Dow Corning purchased the company, moving the entire operation — and Sanchez — to Williams Township.

Sanchez worked Dow Corning for more than 17 years in various stages of research and development, manufacturing, and leadership.

“I had the rare experience of working in this business as it changed hands when Dow Chemical purchased a 100% stake in Dow Corning and merged to Dow/DuPont,” Sanchez says. “Almost 20 years later, we are still operating the Auburn site along with our new facility in Bay City.”

He joined SK Siltron CSS in 2019 as part of parent company SK Siltron’s acquisition of DuPont’s compound semiconductor solutions group.

National, state, and local leaders visited the SK Siltron CSS plant in Bay County. Here, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer listens as Edward Sanchez explains what happens at the plant. (Photo courtesy of SK Siltron CSS)Sanchez says it’s a dynamic, fast-paced, and often exhilarating environment with owners motivated to aggressively invest at a time when the silicon carbide market is rapidly growing.

Just one SK Siltron CSS 6 inch-diameter wafer can be used by other companies to make 450 semiconductor chips — enough to support the power systems of up to eight electric vehicles.

“SK Siltron CSS is a small business in a very large conglomerate of SK Group, a global Fortune 100 company,” Sanchez says. “Being part of this business conglomerate allows for the stability and investment of a large company with the ability to be nimble and flexible that a smaller, standalone business allows.”

The company has already doubled its local workforce to 240 people with plans to grow exponentially in the coming years. Sanchez oversees more than 40 people. It’s a job he loves.

“This is an exciting time for me as I’ve spent my career building this business and technology to where it is today,” he says.

He and his wife, Jennifer, live in Midland where they raised both of their college-age sons, Max and Tyler.

For more information about careers at SK Siltron CSS, visit their website here.

Other articles in this series include:

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