April 19, 2023

Purdue leadership forms task force to take growing semiconductors program to next level

Faculty experts will coordinate university research, economic development projects under CHIPS Act

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A new Purdue University task force devoted to semiconductors and microelectronics has reasserted the university’s focus on helping the U.S. regain preeminence in the industry.

The President’s Semiconductor Task Force will coordinate and lead Purdue’s efforts toward innovative research and development through the CHIPS for America and Science Act, approved in Washington, D.C., last year. The task force will consist of faculty experts from several areas of Purdue microelectronics.

Leading the new task force is Mark Lundstrom, who steps into a new role as chief semiconductor officer for Purdue and senior advisor to President Mung Chiang. Lundstrom, the Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, most recently served as interim dean for the College of Engineering.

Lundstrom said the CHIPS Act is a once-in-a-generation investment, offering opportunities to bolster continuing faculty work at launching the nation’s largest and most comprehensive workforce development program. It also spurred Purdue plans for new, innovative research programs and its work with the state of Indiana to grow an emerging semiconductor ecosystem.

“Faculty continue to work tirelessly to advance Purdue’s semiconductor programs and to help Indiana develop its emerging microelectronics industry,” Lundstrom said. “Having worked in semiconductors for my entire career, I can say that there has never been a more important time for Purdue, Indiana and the nation.”

A member of the Purdue faculty since 1980, Lundstrom’s research and teaching at Purdue have focused on the physics, modeling and simulation of semiconductor devices. Lundstrom was founding director of the National Science Foundation-funded Network for Computational Nanotechnology, a multi-university initiative with a mission to accelerate the evolution of nanoscience to nanotechnology by connecting those who develop simulations to those who use them to analyze experiments and design devices. 

The task force is the latest addition to the Semiconductors@Purdue initiative, which addresses workforce development, research and economic development. Purdue announced the nation’s first comprehensive semiconductor degree program in 2022.

Purdue expanding semiconductor research and development already runs the gamut of disciplines in the field, from materials and devices, to circuits, systems, architecture, and advanced packaging integration. Strong connections in industry, defense and the National Science Foundation further support Purdue’s research.

The President’s Semiconductor Task Force includes:

  • Carol Handwerker, the Reinhardt Schuhmann, Jr. Professor of Materials Engineering and an environmental and ecological engineering professor.
  • Joerg Appenzeller, the Barry M. and Patricia L. Epstein Professor of ECE and scientific director of nanoelectronics in the Birck Nanotechnology Center.
  • Vijay Raghunathan, associate head of ECE and director of Purdue’s Semiconductor Degrees Program (SDP).
  • Ganesh Subbarayan, the James G. Dwyer Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
  • Zhihong Chen, professor of ECE and director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center.
  • Peter Bermel, the Elmore Associate Professor of ECE and director of SCALE.
  • Cristina Farmus, vice president for special projects.

Handwerker and Appenzeller will serve as senior fellows on the task force, while Raghunathan and Subbarayan will serve as fellows on the task force.

“Purdue is the first university out of the gate and attracting attention nationally and internationally for our commitment and quick start on addressing this ambitious challenge,” Lundstrom said. “It won’t be easy, but we are well-positioned for success.”

Semiconductor and microelectronics work is a core piece of Purdue moving forward. SCALE (Scalable Asymmetric Lifecycle Engagement) is a Department of Defense microelectronics workforce development program headed by Purdue’s College of Engineering. The program brings together faculty from 16 other universities and experts from 34 industry partners – including the Department of Defense, NASA and the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration – to give students access to internships, careers and cutting-edge research opportunities in semiconductors. 

Working with Bermel on the leadership of SCALE are Kerrie Douglas, associate director, and Tamara Moore, SCALE K-12 director.

SDP complements SCALE by addressing the needs of the commercial semiconductor industry. Working in close collaboration with 27 senior leaders of the semiconductor industry, the program is a model curriculum to address the critical shortage of semiconductor talent that the U.S. semiconductor industry faces. The program engages students in six different engineering disciplines and involves more that 50 semiconductor faculty. Working with Raghunathan in the leadership of SDP are associate directors Muhammad Hussain and Mark Johnson.

Purdue’s semiconductor research, an important part of the initiative, is anchored by six major centers:

  • Center for Heterogeneous Integration Research on Packaging (CHIRP) directed by Subbarayan.
  • Center for NEW materials for LogIc, Memory, and InTerconnectS (NEWLIMITS), directed by Chen.
  • Center for Secure Microelectronics Ecosystems (CSME), co-directed by Appenzeller and Anand Raghunathan, the Silicon Valley Professor of ECE.
  • Cooling Technologies Research Center (CTRC) directed by Justin Weibel, a mechanical engineering professor.
  • Center for Brain Inspired Computing (C-BRIC), directed by Kaushik Roy, the Edward G. Tiedemann Jr. Distinguished Professor of ECE.
  • Network for Computational Nanotechnology (nanoHUB) led by director Gerhard Klimeck, an ECE professor, and deputy director Alejandro Strachan.

Investments in the future workforce and semiconductor research have also drawn innovative neighbors to Purdue. U.S.-owned semiconductor manufacturer SkyWater Technology and Taiwan’s MediaTek Inc., the world’s fourth-largest chip designer by revenue, have each announced partnerships with Purdue in the last year.

SkyWater plans to open a $1.8 billion state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing facility in Discovery Park District at Purdue, a 400-acre, mixed-use development adjacent to campus. This will provide investing companies access to both Purdue University faculty experts and highly sought-after graduates prepared to work in the industry.

Building the company’s first semiconductor chip design center in the Midwest and the first to be housed directly on a university campus, MediaTek Inc. will provide an opportunity for students to complete their engineering education and contribute directly to product design and solutions for a global team. 

Purdue has also partnered with Ivy Tech Community College, the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system, to develop industry-driven credentials and experiential programs. The collaboration brings Purdue’s resources to populations that may not have had access to this type of program while upskilling a motivated workforce.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last five years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://stories.purdue.edu.

Writer/Media contact: Brian Huchel, bhuchel@purdue.edu  

Source:    Mark Lundstrom, lundstro@purdue.edu

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