Industry advisory board formed to support semiconductor growth in the Midwest region

Posted: June 16, 2023

Strengthening regional support for the semiconductor industry, the Midwest Semiconductor Network has formed an industry advisory board representing leading companies in the space.

“Through the network, we have convened the right academic institutions to innovate at scale and speed to meet the needs of the Midwest’s emerging semiconductor industry,” said Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska, vice president of knowledge enterprise at The Ohio State University. “Now we are focused on bringing higher education and industry together to ensure our collective success. Collaboration is the new competition and the more expertise and perspectives we bring to the table, the more prosperous our region can be.”  

Industry partners will provide guidance and feedback across the 31-member, 5-state network of colleges and universities on strategies to address the industry’s growing workforce needs, including enhanced and new curriculum offerings, new experiential learning opportunities, innovative ways to help current professionals re-skill and opportunities working with K-12. Industry companies will benefit from direct, coordinated lines to talent and workforce development opportunities throughout network colleges and universities. The advisory group will also work to provide strategic direction on cutting-edge research that creates solutions industry needs now.

Rendering of new Intel manufacturing facility in central Ohio
A rendering shows early plans for two new leading-edge Intel processor factories in Licking County, Ohio.

Chosen because of their active participation in conversations with the network as it developed, founding members include: Intel, Texas Instruments, Silvaco, Inc., MACOM Technology Solutions, Lam Research Corporation and Tokyo Electron US. Jim Evers, vice president and general manager for Intel Ohio, has agreed to chair the industry advisory board.

“Intel is on a mission to lead domestic chip capacity and capability growth. That’s why we are proud to invest more than $20 billion in the construction of two leading-edge semiconductor factories in Ohio creating more than 7,000 construction jobs and 3,000 full-time jobs. To prepare the talent pipeline, Intel is investing in educational and research programs in Ohio and across the U.S. to address the technical challenges and workforce shortages in our industry,” said Evers. “I’m excited to join the Midwest Semiconductor Network’s Industry Advisory Board to accelerate the diverse workforce needed to support the onshoring of the advanced semiconductor industry and to prepare students for exciting careers right here in the Silicon Heartland.”

While meeting the research and development needs of the industry is an important focus of the board, the most pressing work will focus on ensuring workers are prepared and skilled as the first plants begin opening in the Midwest in just a few years.

“By bolstering collaboration across the Midwest, Ohio State is leading a broad effort among higher learning and research institutions that can develop the workforce needed to lead the region into becoming the heart of the semiconductor industry,” said J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio president and CEO. “Exploring new ways to boost the number of well-rounded graduates will bring a competitive edge, reduce on-the-job training for new hires, and advance cross-skill sets that will be required by the semiconductor industry and also across advanced manufacturing, including electric vehicles, solar panels, and aerospace.”

“This advisory board continues the spirit of collaboration that has driven the Columbus Region’s emergence as a technology industry powerhouse,” said Kenny McDonald, Columbus Partnership president and CEO. “By preparing for tomorrow’s challenges today, we can develop the workforce necessary to maximize the potential of Ohio’s semiconductor industry.”

Ohio State has already begun to focus on supporting the coming needs for the semiconductor industry, spurred by several investments made by Intel before ground was broken on its Licking County fabrication plants. In the fall, through the College of Engineering, Ohio State will launch a new undergraduate minor and seven new graduate and undergraduate certificate programs designed to prepare students and working professionals for semiconductor-related careers and meet the needs of this burgeoning industry in the region. Three of the certificate programs are available for working professionals in engineering, math, and the physical sciences to demonstrate competency in semiconductor device fabrication technology to potential employers. The minor and other certificates are attachable to any science or engineering degree at the university. These programs focus on understanding of semiconductor devices, fabrication technology and optoelectronics.  

Beyond training, Ohio State has developed programs that combine experiential learning with research. The Center for Advanced Semiconductor Fabrication Research is a multi-institution education and research center, led by Ohio State and funded by the Intel Corporation, that will advance the fabrication and development of semiconductors and next-generation device technologies. The Ohio Partnership for a Diverse and Inclusive Semiconductor Ecosystem and Workforce is a network of public and private universities, colleges and career technical centers, including historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), designed to increase the number, percentage and diversity of students prepared to enter the semiconductor workforce in central Ohio.

"While Ohio State has invested significantly in this area, it is important to note that this is not a single university strategy. Industry requires a multi-faceted workforce that can evolve with the needs of our industry partners. Strong partnerships between universities, community colleges and industry, like those exemplified in the Midwest Semiconductor Network, are essential for the economic future of the Midwest,” said Peter Mohler, interim executive vice president for Research, Innovation and Knowledge.

The White House also recently designated Columbus as one of five workforce hubs where the administration will partner with state and local officials, employers, unions, universities, community colleges, high schools, and other stakeholders to ensure a diverse and skilled workforce can meet the demand for labor driven by investments like Intel’s in central Ohio. Clean energy and transportation are also a focus for the regional hub.

Ohio State proposed the Midwest Semiconductor Network in 2022 in support of the development of semiconductor nanofabrication facilities in the Midwest and the broader, national efforts to promote U.S. leadership in semiconductors and microelectronics. The network is working to 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. Ohio State has been elected by member institutions to lead the network and its governing board for an initial term of three years.

by Krista Richardson, Ohio State News,

Category: Research