Illinois-led initiative receives funding from Intel to update microelectronics education and create new pathways to industry
1/17/2023 11:00:06 AM
In the past, the United States produced 40% of the world’s microelectronics. It currently produces 10-12%. To address this strategic gap, the CHIPS and Science Act appropriated $52.7 billion to revitalize the domestic microelectronics and semiconductor industry. Achieving this goal will require developing and expanding the domestic workforce.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is partnering with the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Stanford University to establish the Higher Educational Initiative in Integrated Device Manufacturing, or HIVE. Funded by Intel, the initiative will bring researchers and educators from these three institutions together with industry partners to update microelectronics curricula and develop pathways to make the industry accessible to more people. It has the potential to impact 260 students through university coursework and over 2,600 students through broader engagement and training opportunities each year.
Can Bayram, Illinois professor of electrical & computer engineering and initiative lead, said “All our institutions have expertise in microelectronics and semiconductors, and we teamed up because we believe it is time to upgrade our curricula and courses to be in line with developing needs.”
“Our hope is to learn what is needed for a successful start at Intel and other companies,” added Debbie Senesky, Stanford co-lead and professor of aeronautics and astronautics (and electrical engineering by courtesy). “By listening to industry and learning what skills are really necessary, we will build curricula and training to set our students up for success.”
Universities train 56% of the 277,000 microelectronics workers in the United States, so they will be key to the workforce’s quality, diversity, and accessibility, according to Bayram. Improving microelectronics training will require more than updating coursework in traditional university science and engineering degree programs. It will also require making industry positions accessible to more groups. Four-year colleges and universities must form relationships with two-year institutions to create pathways to four-year programs and training programs to address the shortage of electronics technicians.
An important component of HIVE will be a workforce development workshop attended by stakeholders in academia, industry, and government. It will identify the skills needed most by practicing engineers and technicians. Once these are identified and goals are set, Intel will continue to provide feedback and form connections with students in a mentorship program.
“As a team, we want to grow this initiative by looking into more support from the NSF, Intel, and other government and industry components so we can get this HIVE buzzing and start recruiting the best students,” Bayram said.
In addition to updating their coursework, each institution will develop transcriptable certificate programs in microelectronics to help students market their skills to employers. Stanford will leverage its existing edX nanotechnology certificate program to explore a microelectronics certificate that can be administered across all three institutions. Rose-Hulman will update its existing Semiconductor Materials and Devices certificate program and develop a summer workshop for students from two-year and four-year institutions as well as faculty who wish to obtain training in semiconductor device fabrication.
All three institutions will also form relationships with community colleges to develop transfer programs and internships for electronics technicians. Illinois has such a transfer program, Engineering Pathways, and an electronics shop internship program with the nearby Parkland College, but it plans to expand these offerings into a statewide initiative. Rose-Hulman will partner with Ivy Tech Community College, the largest educational institution in Indiana, to recruit students for semiconductor manufacturing training. Stanford also offers internships to community college students through nano@stanford, a network of open-access research facilities, and it plans to expand these programs.
Azad Siahmakoun, Rose-Hulman co-lead and professor of physics and optical engineering, believes that the strengths of all three institutions will ensure HIVE’s success. “Rose-Hulman is an undergraduate institution focused on educating engineers, and both Stanford and Illinois are leaders in semiconductor research with strong ties to industry,” he said. “It is an ideal collaboration of top institutions in integrated semiconductor and microelectronics manufacturing.”
The University of Illinois conducts microelectronics research across three facilities: the Holonyak Micro & Nanotechnology Laboratory, the Materials Research Laboratory, and the Micro-Nano Mechanical Systems Cleanroom. Rose-Hulman has offered its certificate program since 1997 and runs summer workshops for international students in its Micro-Nanoscale Devices and Systems cleanroom facility. nano@stanford is one of 16 National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure sites and supports users from academic, industrial, and government laboratories.
HIVE is supported with an award of $200,000 over 18 months. It is funded by the Intel University Research & Collaboration Office under the topic “Broadening Participation in Science and Engineering in Higher Education.”