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Purdue University strengthens support of US semiconductor chip industry

June 26, 2023
The university’s latest partnership with TSMC will focus on workforce development and research

Purdue University is working to ensure a secure supply of semiconductor chips and related products and tools for the United States, from the foundry to the packaged system. This includes research and workforce and economic development for microelectronics. The university’s Center for Secure Microelectronics Ecosystem (CSME), partnered with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the latest in a series of partnerships to expand the university’s global reach in the semiconductor industry.

The renewal of TSMC’s membership in CSME will expand their collaboration on workforce development and research programs through 2031. Additional workforce development activities, graduate fellowships and research assistantships are included in the new agreement, as well as additional educational and research projects.

CSME started in 2021 as a global partnership of academia, industry and government to advance workforce development in designing secure microelectronics.

“At TSMC, we firmly believe that investing in talent is the key to sustainable growth and innovation in the semiconductor industry,” Rick Cassidy, chairman of TSMC Arizona, said. “This partnership with Purdue University is a testament to our shared commitment to advancing the frontiers of knowledge and driving progress in STEM. Through this collaboration, we aim to cultivate the next generation of innovators and leaders by fostering an environment where academia and industry converge.”

Purdue University President Mung Chiang was joined by Cassidy on June 19 for the agreement signing. Purdue also announced a new space in the High Alpha building as part of Purdue University in Indianapolis, focusing on programs such as the semiconductor degree. Purdue’s Semiconductor Degrees Program (SDP) addresses the needs of the commercial semiconductor industry by working in close collaboration with 27 senior leaders of the semiconductor industry. Purdue said the program is a model curriculum to address the critical shortage of talent faced by the U.S. semiconductor industry.

Unveiled as a plan in September 2021 and officially launched in May 2022, Purdue SDP touts five distinct features:

• 6-in-1 content: Chemicals/materials, tools, design, manufacturing and packaging—all semiconductor industry’s key steps in one interdisciplinary program, plus supply chain management.

• Choice of credentials: Master of Science degree, stackable certificates at the postgraduate level, Bachelor of Science minor/concentration; plus, associate degrees through partner Ivy Tech Community College.

• Flexible modality: Both residential and online programs. First-of-its-kind online offering in the United States dedicated to semiconductors.

• Innovative delivery: Through online learning platform nanoHUB and virtual labs, co-op and internship opportunities and design-to-fab team projects.

• Broad partnership: Cornerstone with Department of Defense’s SCALE (Scalable Asymmetric Lifecyle Engagement) program, American Semiconductor Academy (ASA) and other Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act workforce consortia.

“As America’s leading semiconductor university in workforce, research and industry partnership, Purdue is excited to renew, update and expand the collaboration with TSMC, especially in light of the recently announced joint activities with key engineering universities in Taiwan in this area,” Chiang said. “This is now the fourth global partnership in less than two months—including Belgium, India and Japan—that Purdue has formed to enhance our commitment to the semiconductor ecosystem.”

Other Purdue partnerships for semiconductor R&D

In May of this year, Purdue also signed memorandums of understanding with research universities in Taiwan at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU) in Hsinchu and National Chengchi University (NCCU), a public research university in Taipei.

The newest agreement is the latest as part of Semiconductor@Pursue initiative to address research and workforce and economic development. Purdue has pursued many global connections to advance semiconductor research and workforce development. Purdue said a strong mass of researchers at Purdue spans the full stack of semiconductor R&D from materials and devices, to circuits, systems, architecture and advanced packaging integration. Novel information processing architectures such as neuromorphic computing, compute-in memory and probabilistic computing are core strengths at Purdue.

On May 21, Chiang signed a landmark international agreement during the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan. The agreement advances Purdue’s efforts in semiconductor production by partnering with Micron, Tokyo Electron and other educational institutions in the United States and Japan to establish the Upwards Network for workforce advancement and research and development in semiconductors. Micron and Tokyo Electron, as founding industry partners, the National Science Foundation and universities together will invest more than $60 million for the five-year project. Other U.S. university participants included in the MOU are Boise State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Washington and Virginia Tech, while the Japanese university participants are Hiroshima University, Kyushu University, Nagoya University, Tohoku University and Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Chiang signed another agreement in May to become the flagship academic partner and collaborator with the government of India focused skilled workforce development and joint research and innovation in the burgeoning fields of semiconductors and microelectronics. The agreement will work toward creating online and hybrid academic programs for specialized training in areas including chip design and fabrication, advanced packaging, semiconductor materials and embedded system design for Indian students both as noncredit offerings and through integration into Indian education institutions. The agreement also hopes to drive technological advancement and strengthen relations between the United State and India by facilitating collaborations with Indian educational institutions and companies to obtain joint funding opportunities in the areas of semiconductor research and chip design, manufacturing and commercialization.

In addition, Purdue, the state of Indiana and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. announced a partnership on May 3 with imec, a Belgium-based semiconductor research and development firm. The trans-Atlantic partnership focuses on bringing together world-class expertise and state-of-the-art technology with the exchange of students, faculty and professionals among Purdue, the state of Indiana and Belgium to foster further collaborative research and innovation capacity.