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Secretaries Visit

Secretaries of State, Commerce at Purdue to discuss efforts to build a U.S. microelectronics ecosystem.

Banner image: Purdue President Mitch Daniels hosted U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb at the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering for a fireside chat that focused on building a semiconductor ecosystem.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo visited Purdue University on Sept. 13, 2022, to tour research facilities and meet students as they embark on their mission to bolster the U.S. semiconductor industry.

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb joined Blinken and Raimondo on a tour of Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center, highlighting the leading-edge research and workforce development efforts at Purdue that can help the U.S. restore domestic semiconductor manufacturing and competitiveness abroad.

The tour included the Scifres Nanofabrication Laboratory, which has one of the world’s largest university cleanrooms. While at Purdue, the guests also were briefed on the university’s new suite of semiconductor degree programs, ranging from undergraduate through graduate study, and Purdue’s Scalable Asymmetric Lifecycle Engagement (SCALE), a preeminent U.S. program for semiconductor workforce development in the defense sector. Purdue President Mitch Daniels hosted the group.

“We understand the imperative for the United States to be a leader in semiconductors and microelectronics production and innovation,” Daniels said. “It’s through Purdue’s interdisciplinary credentials, degrees and training opportunities, and critical partnerships with industry and that we strive to make a difference and a sound contribution to this effort. We’re honored to show secretaries Blinken and Raimondo what we have done and what we have on the horizon.”

Speaking to the crowd at Birck, Raimondo announced that the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology signed a cooperative research and development agreement to develop and produce chips for nanotech and semiconductor devices. SkyWater Technology will manufacture the chips at an existing semiconductor foundry in Minnesota. This summer, Purdue announced partnerships with SkyWater to build a $1.8 billion fabrication facility in West Lafayette.

“Purdue’s cutting-edge research and workforce development programs are at the forefront of helping us shape the future of innovation in America’s semiconductor manufacturing industry. I’m excited to learn about the workforce pipelines Purdue is creating, including opportunities at all levels of the industry,” Raimondo said. “I’m excited to have met the students who are future leaders of America’s semiconductor industry. The graduates from these programs — from PhDs to associate degree holders — will be at the forefront of innovation as we revitalize American manufacturing.”

At Birck, the group was briefed on architecture/brain-inspired computing, heterogenous packaging, modeling and workforce development efforts that comprise the local, high-tech ecosystem at Purdue. Blinken and Raimondo spoke with Purdue students, who explained their innovation, research and progress in these areas.

Daniels then hosted the guests at the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering for a fireside chat that focused on building a semiconductor ecosystem to restore domestic manufacturing and competitiveness abroad.

Blinken later met with Purdue students at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship to take their questions and discuss STEM careers and paid student programs at the Department of State. His visit coincided with the Industrial Roundtable job fair, among the largest student-run career events in the country, with more than 400 companies and 12,000 students attending annually.

“Indiana is home to world-renowned research and development universities like Purdue,” Holcomb said. “We have access to the necessary robust pool of highly skilled manufacturing workforce and a top-ranked business climate that makes Indiana a prime location for future-focused industries. Indiana seeks to be a leader in the United States and globally for microelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing. We firmly believe that the CHIPS for America program will best position our nation to get there.”

“The CHIPS and Science Act is the type of bipartisan economic and national security win that only comes along once in a generation,” Young said. “We’re grateful that secretaries Blinken and Raimondo came to see the work that is already being done in Indiana to ensure that Hoosier students and workers are prepared to answer the call to out-innovate and outcompete China. As the bill is implemented in coming months, it’s clear that all eyes are on Indiana.”

“To confront the challenges our nation faces today, we need people who understand the intersection of economics, diplomacy, emerging technology and the sciences. We find these people at places like Purdue, which bring together academia and the private sector to ensure that we can remain the world’s innovation leaders and standard setters,” Blinken said of the visit. “The groundbreaking work here and at institutions around the country is rooted in the recognition that foreign, economic and domestic policy are inextricably linked and that domestic competitiveness, national security and a strong middle class are mutually reinforcing.”