U of M Minnesota Semiconductor Manufacturing Consortium launches, paving way for high-paying job opportunities

New University program aims to increase technical skills of Minnesota’s semiconductor workforce

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (06/21/2023)—The University of Minnesota's Technological Leadership Institute (TLI) recently announced the launch of the Minnesota Semiconductor Manufacturing Consortium, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at upskilling Minnesota's technical workforce for careers in semiconductor manufacturing. 

Semiconductors are essential components in all electronics, powering everything from the chips in our smartphones to medical devices. The United States is a leader in the global semiconductor manufacturing and design market, which is expected to become a trillion-dollar industry by 2030. 

With the generous support of stakeholders including Honeywell, Collins Aerospace, Polar Semiconductor, and the Minnesota Nano Center, as well as a significant contribution from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the new consortium will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the semiconductor industry in the region.

“The launch of the Minnesota Semiconductor Manufacturing Consortium represents a huge step forward  in our ongoing efforts to drive technological innovation and economic growth in Minnesota,” said Travis Thul, operations director at the Technological Leadership Institute. “We are grateful for the support of our corporate partners and DEED, and we look forward to empowering individuals with the skills they need to thrive in the semiconductor industry.”

“This partnership is expected to grow, and build a sustainable workforce development framework that endures beyond federal and state funding, and serves a growing ecosystem of semiconductor companies in the region,” said Surya Iyer, President & chief operations officer of Polar Semiconductor.

Under the leadership of TLI, the Minnesota Semiconductor Manufacturing Consortium will develop and implement asynchronous training programs covering essential areas such as microfabrication process flow, lithography, etching, and other cutting-edge techniques. These comprehensive training modules will equip individuals with the skills and knowledge required for high-paying positions within the semiconductor sector. 

Leveraging state-of-the-art facilities and resources, consortium partners will also provide students with invaluable hands-on experience through laboratory components hosted by the Minnesota Nano Center.

“The Minnesota Nano Center is proud to partner with industry leaders and the state of Minnesota to meet the challenge of expanding the technical workforce in our state.” said Jim Marti, senior scientist and outreach coordinator at the Minnesota Nano Center. “Our goal is to improve and broaden training of workers for advanced microelectronics manufacturing, which is so important to the continued economic and technical leadership of our region and the nation.”

"Honeywell is thrilled to see TLI receive grant funding for this transformative training program,” said Vanessa Jimenez-Shapiro, director of marketing, defense and space for Honeywell Aerospace. “The demand for semiconductor job opportunities in Minnesota is of paramount importance, as they contribute to significant advancements on a global scale. Honeywell’s Radiation Hardened Microelectronics has already achieved remarkable milestones, journeying to Mars with the rover and surpassing Jupiter. However, the most extraordinary and demanding missions still lie ahead, requiring the expertise of exceptionally skilled technicians to accomplish them." 

In addition to its immediate impact on workforce development, the consortium is poised to foster further partnerships with regional semiconductor firms and capitalize on opportunities presented by the CHIPS Act. The recently enacted CHIPS Act legislation provides access to billions of dollars for semiconductor technology hubs, creating the potential for thousands of high-skill job opportunities within the region.

About the Technological Leadership Institute

About the Technological Leadership Institute: Founded in 1987 with major support from the Honeywell corporation, TLI was created as a bridge between academia and industry, training tech professionals for high-level leadership roles. The Institute offers three graduate programs as well as numerous short courses and certificates. For more information, visit the Institute’s website.

 About the Minnesota Nano Center

The Minnesota Nano Center (MNC), is a state-of-the-art facility for interdisciplinary research in nanoscience and applied nanotechnology. Located on the campus of the University of Minnesota, the MNC’s mission is to support the fabrication, synthesis, and characterization of nanoscale devices and materials for both academic and industrial users. For more information, visit the MNC website.