NAU to expand training, research and innovation programs in semiconductors

Category: News
Published: 2024-02-16
NAU to expand training, research and innovation programs in semiconductors

ARIZONA – The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) has announced a US$13 million investment in Northern Arizona University (NAU) to expand training and research programs related to metrology, a critical component of semiconductor manufacturing and innovation.

NAU will leverage the investment to enhance Arizona’s semiconductor ecosystem, including the establishment of a microelectronics metrology certificate program that equips students with knowledge and skills in measurement and quality assurance.

Also included is a Semiconductor Training Center at the university’s North Valley Campus in Phoenix, which will provide skilled labor to the microelectronics and semiconductor industries; as well as a campus-wide Metrology Research and Teaching Laboratory (MRTL), which brings together subject matter experts from multiple disciplines, including electrical engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, MIRA, physics and chemistry.

Metrology plays a critical role in semiconductor manufacturing in the areas of process control, yield improvement and quality assurance. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reports that demand for metrology professionals in the semiconductor industry is rapidly outstripping supply, a gap that is expected to grow.

“Arizona’s thriving semiconductor industry, which is bolstered by our world-class universities and community colleges, is creating thousands of high-paying jobs and career advancement opportunities,” said Gov. Katie Hobbs.

“Semiconductors are a critical part of the 21st century economy, and it is important that Arizonans have access to high-quality, affordable programs to prepare them for jobs in engineering, quantum computing and the semiconductor industry,” said NAU President Jose Luis Cruz Rivera.

ACA’s investment in NAU is part of a US$100 million commitment announced in 2022 to increase semiconductor and microelectronics development in the state.

In December, in partnership with ASU and NXP, the ACA announced a US$17.5 million investment for ASU to expand advanced packaging and gallium nitride manufacturing research. The investment will strengthen Arizona’s capabilities in advanced packaging.

In November, the University of Arizona and ACA announced the expansion of the University’s Micro/Nano Fabrication Center (MNFC) in Tucson. The MNFC is a clean-room facility that supports fabrication and research efforts in semiconductors, computer chips, optical devices and quantum computing systems. The MNFC expansion, which has a US$35.5 million investment from the ACA, will also include additional training activities to further grow the state’s skilled workforce.

In July, ASU, Applied Materials, Inc, and the ACA announced plans to create a shared world-class research, development and prototyping center, the Materials-to-Fab (MTF) Center, in the university’s MacroTechnology Works building in the ASU Research Park. The MTF Center, which has a US$30 million investment from the Arizona Commerce Authority, will house Applied Materials’ Center of Excellence in materials deposition technology.