By Brian Huchel
Purdue University’s College of Engineering is partnering with MediaTek Inc., a leading global fabless chip designer, to open the company’s first semiconductor chip design center in the Midwest, to be housed on Purdue’s campus.
Mung Chiang, Purdue president-elect, joined Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb; Bradley B. Chambers, Indiana secretary of commerce; Don Graves, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce; and MediaTek leaders in hailing the June 2022 announcement.
The center marks another piece of Purdue’s commitment in addressing society’s increasing semiconductor demands and the needed talent pool. In May 2022, the university announced the launch of the nation’s first large-scale, interdisciplinary Semiconductor Degrees Program (SDP), a comprehensive set of innovative, interdisciplinary degrees and credentials in semiconductors and microelectronics. The university also in May announced a partnership with Ivy Tech Community College to provide a variety of collaborative educational opportunities for faculty and students in microelectronics and to explore ways to attract more talent to this area.
In addition, in late July, Purdue announced that SkyWater Technology plans to open a $1.8 billion state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing facility in the Discovery Park District at Purdue.
MediaTek and Purdue also will partner on new chip design engineering degree programs, research on artificial intelligence, and communications chip design.
The idea for a new design center for MediaTek was born in 2021, when Gov. Holcomb traveled to Silicon Valley to pitch chip CEOs about Indiana’s commitment to the semiconductor industry. Combined with a follow-up invitation to visit Purdue from university President Mitch Daniels, the Purdue College of Engineering made its case for a first-of its-kind collaboration that included a new design center on campus.
“This means students at Purdue will have the opportunity to interact with world-class chip design talent right across the street,” Chiang said.
Chiang’s team worked with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to fully leverage Purdue’s role as one of the top engineering schools to attract this new semiconductor investment.
The Purdue partnership represents a new U.S. growth model for MediaTek USA — outside the traditional centers of gravity for chip design.
“We believe strongly that being in Indiana means we’ll have access to some of the best engineering talent in the world,” said Kou-Hung Lawrence Loh, corporate senior vice president of MediaTek Inc. and president of MediaTek USA Inc. “Not just at Purdue, but West Lafayette is only four hours away from nearly a dozen of the top engineering schools in the country. In the post-pandemic world, top candidates tell us they want to be closer to home, near family, and they want to have a real house and great public schools. Indiana offers all that and more.”
MediaTek has been partnering with U.S. universities on advanced research for more than a decade, but this latest project is unique in that a new center will be sited directly on campus and is an opportunity for students to both complete their engineering education and contribute directly to product design and solutions for a global team. The collaboration also will help bring more advanced semiconductor design talent to Indiana.