© dirk ercken dreamstime.com General | September 27, 2019
SEMI, SUNY Poly snag major grant to expand talent pipeline
SEMI and SUNY Polytechnic Institute have landed a major grant ꟷ USD 6 million ꟷ from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund workforce development initiatives for the microelectronics manufacturing industry.
SEMI, the global industry association representing the electronics manufacturing and design supply chain, will disperse the funds over three years, to “support the development and implementation of a semiconductor workforce certification program designed to meet the industry’s most pressing needs,” according to a SEMI press release. The certification program will be a component of SEMI Works, the organization’s industry-driven initiative to expand the talent pipeline for the electronics manufacturing industry. The NSF grant will also fund a prototype program consisting of a unified competency model, course curriculum, web portal, and engagement with industry and training providers. The project is funded by the NSF’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, which strives to educate and develop technicians for the advanced-technology fields instrumental in revving the nation's economy. SUNY Poly, with campuses in Albany and Utica, New York, will administer the grant and serve as the academic partner for the program. Already a leader in semiconductor-related technology development and education, SUNY Poly offers a long history of working with business to develop programs for training semiconductor industry technicians. The NSF funding will enable SUNY Poly to expand its high-tech courses and increase its support of technology companies both regionally and beyond, including STEM education and technology career pathways across K-12, higher education, and adult training. The first phase of the program will focus on SEMI’s efforts to engage industry in developing a talent competency model based on critical skillsets needed by the semiconductor industry. SUNY Poly will then leverage the model to build technician-level course curriculum for area community colleges and mechatronics programs. Students completing the courses will receive technician certifications as credentials, endorsed by SEMI, for working in the semiconductor industry. SEMI President and CEO Ajit Manocha said, “The talent shortage is the most critical issue confronting the semiconductor industry today. We are thrilled to partner with the NSF and SUNY Poly in this vitally important step to build a workforce that will continue to drive innovations that are transforming the world and our lives. Our engagement with SEMI members across the electronics manufacturing supply chain will ensure that job education and training meet the needs of advanced manufacturing. We look forward to establishing a regional talent development program that we can scale to grow the talent pipeline.” “We are very excited to be partnering with SEMI and the National Science Foundation on this program,” said Professor of Nanoscale Science Dr. Robert Geer, who leads the SUNY Polytechnic research project. “Working with SEMI on this first-of-its kind certification to strengthen the 21st century high-tech workforce will allow our region’s undergraduate college students to be perfectly positioned to pursue outstanding STEM-related careers. As a result, they will be highly sought after – and uniquely qualified – to thrive in cutting-edge semiconductor and electronics systems technology fields, including AI, power electronics, integrated photonics, and computer chip manufacturing at SEMI member companies, as well as others.”