Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and GlobalFoundries (Nasdaq: GFS) (GF) launched a new higher education course to help address semiconductor industry education and workforce development needs. The course, Topics in Microelectronics Manufacturing, is targeted toward advanced undergraduates and early graduate students and has already attracted high enrollment. This course, co-taught by James Lu, curriculum chair of RPI’s electrical, computer, and systems engineering (ECSE) department, and a team of leading industry experts from GF, aims to introduce students to the state-of-the art chip manufacturing technologies and to amplify their interest in chips-centric careers.
The collaboration between RPI and GF supports education and workforce development to ensure that students are prepared for success when they enter the labor market in a rapidly changing economy. Estimates show the U.S. will need approximately 50,000 new semiconductor engineers and technicians in the next five years, a number that far exceeds current graduation rates nationwide.
“GF has been a fantastic partner with RPI in offering real-world experience and expertise to our students through special topics courses, internship, co-op, and employment opportunities, guest lectures, joint research projects, and facility access,” said John Wen, head of ECSE and Russell Sage Professor at RPI. “With this new course offering, we look forward to further expanding this partnership.”
“RPI has been a tremendous asset for workforce development,” said Peter Benyon, General Manager, GF New York Fab. “This course jointly taught by RPI and GF is a great example of the collaboration between higher ed and industry necessary for training the next generation of semiconductor experts. We have been very impressed with the RPI graduates that work at GF.”
“The process of designing and fabricating computer chips has become the most technical and sophisticated manufacturing process in human history. This special topic course on semiconductor manufacturing is the first in a series of courses and programs we plan to offer in partnership with semiconductor industry,” said Lu, who has been leading a team to develop the semiconductor curriculum at RPI.
The first semester of the class has more than 70 students enrolled, which is nearly double the typical enrollment for a popular upper-level elective course. These collaborations between academia and industry present a great model for developing content and courses at the frontiers, and RPI is also working with other companies to expand this initiative.
“The class is unique as it is co-taught by leading experts in the industry, giving students the most advanced practical knowledge and skills demanded for semiconductor manufacturing – a highly interdisciplinary endeavor. The GF lecturers have great skill at explaining topics with decades of private industry experience informing the teaching,” said Lu.