SEMI, SUNY Poly Awarded $6 Million National Science Foundation Grant for Pilot Program to Grow Electronics Industry Talent Pipeline

September 30, 2019 SEMI

MILPITAS, Calif, and ALBANY and UTICA, NY – September 23, 2019 – SEMI, the global industry association representing the electronics manufacturing and design supply chain, and SUNY Polytechnic Institute today announced that they have been awarded a $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund workforce development initiatives for the microelectronics manufacturing industry. The funding, to be provided over three years, will support the development and implementation of a semiconductor workforce certification program designed to meet the industry’s most pressing needs.

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The certification program will be part of SEMI Works™, SEMI’s groundbreaking, industry-driven initiative to grow the talent pipeline for the electronics manufacturing industry. The NSF grant will fund a pilot program that includes 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 focuses on educating technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation's economy.

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SUNY Poly, with campuses in Albany and Utica, New York, will administer the grant and serve as the academic partner for the program. A recognized leader in semiconductor-related technology development and education, SUNY Poly brings to the program strengths in working with business to develop programs for training semiconductor industry technicians. The NSF funding will enable SUNY Poly to scale its high-tech-centered courses and bolster its support of technology companies in the Albany and Utica, New York region and beyond. The pilot will enable the region to better support STEM education and technology career pathways across K-12, higher education, and adult training. 

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The pilot program will first focus on SEMI’s efforts to engage industry in developing a talent competency model based on skills the semiconductor industry needs most. 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. 

“The talent shortage is the most critical issue confronting the semiconductor industry today,” said Ajit Manocha, president and CEO of SEMI. “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.”

“This award is just one part of NSF’s broad portfolio of programs helping to prepare the workforce of the future,” said Dr. Karen Marrongelle, head of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources at the NSF. “Providing well-trained technicians for advanced manufacturing of electronics is critical to maintaining U.S. leadership in the semiconductor industry. We are thrilled that SEMI has joined forces with SUNY Poly to provide direct industry input into this certificate program – a great way to keep technical education aligned with their industry’s workforce needs.”

“SUNY Poly is proud to partner with SEMI and the NSF to address persistent workforce concerns in the high-tech industry by enabling access to qualified talent that has the skills required for success in growing innovation-focused fields,” said Dr. Grace Wang, Interim President of SUNY Poly. “As the first region in the U.S. to develop this certification with SEMI, we are thrilled to work alongside industry and government to contribute to the health of the future talent pipeline in New York State, across the United States, and around the globe, while maintaining our region’s leadership in the development of a 21st century high-tech workforce.”

“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. We are pleased to pursue educational and workforce development solutions that will have a positive impact, reverberating around the world.”

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