The Purdue Semiconductor Degree Leadership Board heard from then-Purdue President-elect Mung Chiang at its October meeting.
When Purdue launched the nation’s first comprehensive Semiconductor Degrees Program (SDP) in May 2022, it was just one part of the College of Engineering’s plan to aggressively prepare a U.S. workforce ready to handle growing industry demands.
In its continuing commitment to strengthen expertise in microelectronics and semiconductors, the university held a dedicated weeklong event and announced the development of a new course and summer enrichment program.
2022 SEMICONDUCTOR WEEK AT PURDUE
Events the week of Oct. 3-7 drew more than 55 corporate and government executives, who participated in meetings, met with faculty and students, witnessed Purdue’s progress and provided feedback.
INTRODUCTION TO SEMICONDUCTORS COURSE
This interactive, seminar-based, one-credit-hour class introduces the industry and various business models across the entire microelectronics supply chain. The course emphasizes the impact of semiconductors on daily lives and offers career options for engineering and science students. Planned topics include logic microprocessor, memory technology, design, modeling tools, sustainable manufacturing processes and the fabless model.
Created by a team representing the Purdue Office of Professional Practice, Engineering faculty, and industry partners, the course was first offered in the Spring 2023 semester. The course includes a weekly 50-minute session in which industry representatives from diverse technological backgrounds discuss relevant semiconductor products, company profiles, career prospects and skills.
SUMMER TRAINING, AWARENESS, AND READINESS FOR SEMICONDUCTORS (STARS)
Upon successful completion of the Introduction to Semiconductors course requirements, students will be offered opportunities to develop deep-tech skills through the Purdue Summer Training, Awareness, and Readiness for Semiconductors (STARS) program. This on-campus pilot program, which will be structured like a paid internship, will begin in Summer 2023 with at least 50 students. Students will complete eight to 10 weeks of coursework and hands-on activities, including two weeks in the Scifres Cleanroom in the Birck Nanotechnology Center.
Purdue is planning for close collaboration with industry to develop and implement STARS, especially since significant financial and human resources are needed to train 50 students during the 10-week program. Students will have opportunities to interact with industry experts and learn first-hand about technological advances, production processes, and the many career options available to engineers interested in microelectronics.
“Both initiatives are in alignment with Purdue’s commitment to develop a semiconductor workforce at scale through comprehensive and quality learning experiences,” said Mark Lundstrom, serving as interim dean of the College of Engineering when STARS was announced and currently senior advisor to the Purdue president and chief semiconductor officer. “We are confident that these programs will be foundational to address our national need for more semiconductor professionals in the coming decades.”
PRIORITIZING WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT THROUGH INDUSTRY ENGAGEMENT
The Purdue Semiconductor Degree Program is guided by the Semiconductor Degree Leadership Board, composed of executives from 25 leading microelectronics companies. The members met in person on the Purdue campus Oct. 4-5, when they heard updates on workforce development programs, discussed how to attract and retain a diverse pool of students to the industry, and heard the faculty’s vision for educational programs. Industry representatives engaged in discussions and offered feedback related to long-term company trends and strategies to develop robust talent.
During the 2022 Industrial Roundtable, which attracted more than 430 companies, Lundstrom led an information session at the Wilmeth Active Learning Center to introduce students to Purdue’s repertoire of semiconductor opportunities. Representatives from 28 companies involved in the semiconductor and microelectronic fields interacted and networked with students. Tom Sonderman, SkyWater Technology president and CEO, presented his vision of the industry and the company’s plans for the new West Lafayette location.
Furthering its workforce development efforts, Purdue announced in August 2022 its participation in a 12-member network of colleges and universities in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan to form the Midwest Regional Network to Address National Needs in Semiconductors and Microelectronics. Partner institutions will leverage existing research, curricular and experiential learning assets, capabilities, and expertise within the region and grow the collective capacity to support the domestic growth of robust semiconductor and microelectronics innovation and supply chain ecosystems.
Peter Bermel, the Elmore Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, conducts research with a student in Birck Nanotechnology Center. Bermel directs Purdue's Scalable Asymmetric Lifecycle Engagement (SCALE), the preeminent U.S. program for semiconductor workforce development, which received funding to continue and broaden work in the defense sector.