12-University Midwest Team to Boost Semiconductor Supply Chain

The combined stressors of Covid-19 and the invasion of Ukraine have caused all major nations to scramble to strengthen their mission-critical supply chains – including and in particular the supply chain in semiconductors. In the United States – which, like much of the world, depends on Asia for its semiconductors – these efforts have taken shape thanks to the recently passed US CHIPS and Science Act, which directs tens of billions of dollars towards new American semiconductor factories. Intel, meanwhile, is investing $20 billion in two new chip factories in Ohio, which the company is poised to innovate on. As a result of these developments, 11 Midwestern colleges and universities have formed a network aimed at further strengthening the semiconductor industry in the Midwest.

“The global disruptions that have caused significant shortages have underscored the need for substantial investment and growth in the domestic semiconductor industry so that the United States can remain competitive,” said Kristina Johnson, president of the ‘Ohio State University. “This powerful network of research and academic excellence will fuel transformative scientific exploration and economic development while preparing the workforce of tomorrow. Through this collective approach, we will maximize the potential of our individual institutions and make our Silicon Heartland vision a reality.

The network is called the Midwest Regional Network to Address National Needs in Semiconductor and Microelectronics (no one has abbreviated this to “MRNANNSM” yet – and maybe they shouldn’t). The dozen institutions – listed below – include two from Indiana, two from Michigan and eight from Ohio.

  • Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
  • Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio)
  • University of Dayton (Dayton, Ohio)
  • Columbus State Community College (Columbus, Ohio)
  • Lorain County Community College (Elyria, Ohio)
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing, Michigan)
  • Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana)
  • Sinclair Community College (Dayton, Ohio)
  • University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
  • University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Indiana)
  • Wright State University (Fairborn, Ohio)

The significant performance of Ohio universities is, of course, no accident. The network grew out of a two-day workshop hosted by Ohio State University in early April of this year. At this workshop, universities discussed how they could take advantage of the investment and research opportunities presented by Intel’s fabulous investment in Ohio and the $50 million follow-on investment from the society in higher education in Ohio. “How can we all come together to ensure Intel’s success? Johnson asked at the time. “Why don’t we show the country how we can really come together and do something that will be unique?”

A rendering shows the first plans for two new state-of-the-art Intel processor factories in Licking County, Ohio. Announced on Jan. 21, 2022, the $20 billion project spans nearly 1,000 acres and is the largest private sector investment in Ohio history. Construction is expected to begin in late 2022, with production coming online in late 2025. (Intel Corporation)

Less than four months later, the presidents of the dozen universities signed a memorandum of understanding to form the network. The premise of the network remains broad for now: to leverage each university’s research, capabilities, and expertise to support the growth of the semiconductor and microelectronics industries in the United States. promote regional funding workshops and develop pilot mechanisms to connect relevant university assets to each other.

“These new investments provide unprecedented opportunities for our students and faculty,” said Alan Seabaugh, director of Notre Dame Nanoscience and Technology. “It’s exciting to see semiconductor manufacturing gaining a foothold in the Midwest. Thanks to this new collaboration, our students and researchers will be well placed to meet this urgent need.

The network is not limited to its initial dozen members, and representatives expect it to grow over time.

To learn more about CHIPS and science law, read HPCwirefront cover.