John Petersen,’78, cultivated a passion for scientific exploration


ALAMOSA – Combining a passion for physics and chemistry with an innate creative intelligence, John Petersen, ’78, has helped advance the world of technology. His long list of scientific achievements and accolades includes 38 years of experience in the development and use of advanced lithography for semiconductors, during which he authored 76 papers and was granted 12 patents.

Petersen is still going. Recently, he became a principal scientist at imec, a R&D and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. “I hope that the work we’re doing will help us one day in the fabrication of molecular scale electronics,” he says. “At the very least, the gained information teaches us something that challenges the intellect and leads to advances we don’t yet know. Success is not always an overnight thing, and true intellectual pursuit can last, gladly, a lifetime.”

Petersen graduated with honors from Adams State in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. “So many caring professors amplified what my family had already been nurturing — my imagination and how to shape my world to meet my needs of exploration,” he says. “Adams taught me to think critically, to always ask questions, to recognize and not accept glibness from anyone, and to search for truth through dialogue, through reading, through observation, and through critical analysis.”

With the support of those around him at Adams State, Petersen realized his potential. “I did it, a kid from Cheraw, Colorado, the smallest of rural communities, and if I can do it, anybody can do it,” he says. “I believe it takes a belief in your innate ability, a recognition of areas for nurture and pursuit to build. Then it takes a realization that you’re not by yourself, that you can be part of community of people where you can resonate and thereby grow and harmonize. It is this harmonization that makes you better, that makes you successful. Now the challenge is to learn to play the instrument that is your being.”

Petersen also notes that while passion for your work is good, it’s important to enjoy the rest of your life. “I have learned that all actions are steps towards or away from peace, justice, and love. For me stepping towards these goals creates the fulcrum of my balance.”

Caption: Adams State University will award John Petersen the 2018 Outstanding Alumnus Award at the Alumni Banquet and Awards Ceremony during Homecoming on October 5. For reservations and tickets, call the Alumni Relations Office at 719-587-8110./Photo courtesy of John Petersen

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