By Steve Martin
The July 2022 announcement by SkyWater Technology that it plans to open a $1.8 billion state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing facility in the Discovery Park District at Purdue marks a huge step forward for the American semiconductor industry, Purdue’s thriving innovation district, and the university’s continued emergence as a principal driver of the Indiana economy.
SkyWater, which expects to create 750 new direct jobs within five years after it opens, joins the likes of Saab, Rolls-Royce, major facilities and partnerships in hypersonics, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Wabash, MediaTek and others in the Discovery Park District at Purdue — one of the most attractive and innovative environments in the Midwest.
With this new investment from SkyWater, the funds needed to pay off the obligations to the 231 Purdue TIF district, created as part of the State Street project, will be in hand more than a decade in advance.
Doing its part to address the global semiconductor shortage has been a priority at Purdue. In May 2022, Purdue launched a comprehensive set of interdisciplinary degrees and credentials in semiconductors and microelectronics. The nation’s first large-scale, interdisciplinary Semiconductor Degrees Program (SDP), the suite of innovative Purdue degrees and credentials, will educate both graduate and undergraduate students, in residence and online, enabling a quick ramp-up of skilled talent.
In June 2022, Purdue began a partnership 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 in the Discovery Park District at Purdue.
The U.S. developed microchip technology in the 1950s, and its manufacturing output was 37 percent of the total global output in 1990. However, as manufacturing moved to East Asia — countries including China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan — the U.S. global output of semiconductor manufacturing fell to 12 percent in 2021. The shift could lead to problems in the digital economy if the supply chain is disrupted.
As a solution, the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act, or CHIPS Act, was signed into law on Aug. 9, 2022. It supports the nation’s research and development, manufacturing, and supply chain security of semiconductors.
Building the new 600,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing facility, which includes 100,000 square feet of cleanroom space, will depend on SkyWater receiving funds from the CHIPS Act, said Thomas Sonderman, president and CEO of SkyWater Technology. American jobs created will focus on research and design engineering, technology development, operations engineering, maintenance and technical support, and technicians.
“Federal investment will enable SkyWater to more quickly expand our efforts to address the need for strategic reshoring of semiconductor manufacturing,” Sonderman said. “Through our alliance with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and Purdue Research Foundation, we have a unique opportunity to increase domestic production, shore up our supply chains and lay the groundwork for manufacturing technologies that will support growing demand for microelectronics.”
Dr. Angie Lewis (SES), NSWC Crane technical director, said: “Trusted microelectronics are a centerpiece of NSWC Crane’s mission and absolutely essential to Department of Defense sensor and weapon systems. Creating domestic capability for fabrication of trusted microelectronics such as the SkyWater presence in the Purdue Discovery Park District offers great opportunity to secure trusted microelectronics.”
SkyWater Technology Forward-Looking Statements
This story contains “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements that are based on the company’s current expectations or forecasts of future events, rather than past events and outcomes, and such statements are not guarantees of future performance. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions, which may cause the company’s actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Key factors that could cause the company’s actual results to be different than expected or anticipated include, but are not limited to, factors discussed in the “Risk Factors” section of its annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, and in other documents that the company files with the SEC, which are available at https://www.sec.gov. The company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of the press release (July 20, 2022).