Intel announces $50 million investment in Ohio higher education


The Ohio State University is among the Ohio educational institutions that will collaborate with Intel and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) on a $100 million investment over the next decade to establish semiconductor manufacturing education partnerships.

Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson joined Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, leaders from Intel and the NSF, and Columbus State Community College President David Harrison for the March 17 announcement at Columbus State.

Intel’s education financing is part of the company’s recent announcement that it will invest more than $20 billion to construct two new leading-edge chip factories in Ohio. Intel will invest $50 million directly in Ohio higher education institutions. An additional $50 million from Intel will be matched by $50 million from the NSF in national funding opportunities.

Ohio’s educational institutions are well-situated to develop the highly skilled workforce necessary to staff the new chip factories, said Keyvan Esfarjani, Intel’s executive vice president of manufacturing, supply chain and operations.

“It really comes down to three things: It’s really about land, infrastructure and, most importantly, is talent,” he said.  “Ohio meets all of that.”

Through its investment, Intel will establish comprehensive and collaborative programs with higher education institutions to accelerate readiness and enable the workforce needed for operations of its new semiconductor fabrication facilities and of ecosystem partners. The investments will provide resources for creating new curriculums for associate and undergraduate degrees, certifications, faculty training, reskill and upskill programs for the existing workforce, laboratory equipment upgrades and research supporting semiconductor fabrication innovation.

“When we first started talking with Intel, one of the things that they asked us about and we talked about was employees, people who would join them when they got here,” DeWine said. “One of the things that I think they valued in Ohio was our two-year university system, our four-year university system. They made it very, very clear that they intended to work with our colleges and with our universities.”

Part of Intel’s $50 million investment will establish the Intel Semiconductor Education and Research Program for Ohio to fund a collaborative, multi-institution research and education program that will emphasize gaining real-world experience and innovating in semiconductor fabrication.

“When you think about what we’re doing, it’s about how we’re working together,” Husted said. “It’s about how our high schools and career centers and our community colleges and our universities, how we all collaborate on a common mission of delivering a winning team. And that’s exactly what we intend to do in Ohio. That’s what we have been doing in Ohio.”

Intel will accept proposals from Ohio-based academic researchers, technical centers, faculty and educators to address curriculum development, faculty training, laboratory equipment upgrades, novel research to advance semiconductor fabrication and student opportunities, including internships.  

“Cutting-edge research will be critical to the long-term success of this industry. We’re blessed in our state to have top-tier universities to lead the way,” Harrison said. “At Columbus State, we’re really lucky to work closely with President Kristina Johnson and her great team at The Ohio State University. This strong partnership will grow even stronger as we work together in new ways. And similar relationships exist around Ohio, providing workforce and research infrastructure that is second to none.” 

NSF will release a solicitation for proposals from researchers and educators across the nation to develop curriculum improving STEM education at two-year colleges and four-year universities, including minority-serving institutions, and novel research to advance semiconductor design and manufacturing.

“The work that we fund will find its way into the chip-making facilities that will soon be rising up not far from here to the manufacturing floors there, to the tiny devices that are departing those facilities and eventually to the products that are in our homes and offices that we consume on a daily basis,” said Erwin Gianchandani, the NSF’s deputy assistant director for computer and information science engineering. “But not only that; we at NSF are deeply, deeply committed to addressing the immediate semiconductor workforce shortages that exist here in Ohio and throughout our country.”

The first two Intel factories in Ohio are expected to create 3,000 high-tech jobs and 7,000 construction jobs, and to support tens of thousands of additional long-term jobs across a broad ecosystem of suppliers and partners.

“These full-time positions are going to span roles that require a two-year associate degree, all the way through to roles that may require a PhD, so that we can test the limits of science and continue to improve and innovate the products that we make,” said Christy Pambianchi, Intel’s chief people officer. “Our plan includes exploration of STEM development programs at the local and the regional and the national level so that we can make sure that we are filling the pipeline that we need with education. And this will also include a manufacturing technician certification effort. For us, we believe that investing in education is necessary to ensure that we have the right talent here to help the United States regain leadership in semiconductor manufacturing.”

by Chris Bournea, Ohio State News