TUCON, AZ – The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) announced the expansion of the University of Arizona’s Micro/Nano Fabrication Center (MNFC), located in the University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department building in Tucson.
The MNFC is a clean room facility that supports manufacturing and research efforts related to semiconductors, computer chips, optical devices and quantum computing systems. The Center has a US$35.5 million investment from the Arizona Commerce Authority. The funding will also support the expansion of training and educational modules to ensure the state continues to grow its skilled workforce to meet industry demand.
“The expansion of the UArizona Micro/Nano Manufacturing Center represents another significant advancement for Arizona’s semiconductor industry,” said Governor Katie Hobbs. “The Center will leverage UArizona’s cutting-edge research and development capabilities and expand workforce training efforts, supporting the continued growth of Arizona’s semiconductor and manufacturing industries.”
“I am incredibly proud of our College of Engineering and the work it does for our state,” said Robert C. Robbins, President of the University of Arizona. “It has a long history of innovative research and training the next generation of Arizona’s workforce. The expanded facility will have a far-reaching impact for our students, researchers and industry partners, and I am grateful to the Arizona Commerce Authority for this investment.”
“We are committed to advancing sustainable economic development, training the workforce of the future and enhancing national security, thereby increasing the pipeline of good-paying jobs in Arizona and across the country,” said Liesl Folks, Vice President of Semiconductor Manufacturing at the University of Arizona.
The ACA investment is part of a US$100 million commitment announced last year to increase semiconductor and microelectronics development in the state. The investment will support technology development and continue to increase the skilled workforce to support advanced manufacturing industries.
The Southwest Nano-Lab Alliance, a coalition of universities committed to promoting the regional semiconductor industry, will be a major partner in this broad initiative. UArizona will allocate US$3 million of the funds to Pima Community College in Tucson and Central Arizona College in Coolidge to support expanded workforce training programs, including virtual reality classrooms.
The College of Engineering plans to develop innovative teaching tools to train UArizona and partner school students to work with this technology.
To streamline the training process, the university will create a digital twin of the MNFC facility and all the tools, resulting in a virtual reality simulation of the facility that workers can use to familiarize themselves with workflows and equipment.