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New institute leads microelectronics research and education

With approval from the Idaho State Board of Education, Boise State University has established the Institute for Microelectronics Education and Research (MER), a university-wide effort to prepare students for careers related to microelectronics and to advance vital research conducted by faculty, staff, and students. The Institute will be a nexus of the microelectronics efforts at Boise State and will develop opportunities for educational initiatives, workforce development and avenues of research.

“I am extremely pleased to see MER come to fruition at Boise State,” said Boise State University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs John Buckwalter. “We are excited to help advance the Pacific Northwest region’s capacity in the microelectronics and semiconductor arena.”

“Boise State is advancing on a large variety of fronts to secure Idaho’s strength in and security around technologies of the future. This effort joins our work in cybersecurity, materials science, election security, and inquiries into AI. We are proud of our leadership on this front,” said Boise State President Dr. Marlene Tromp.

MER will provide opportunities for collaboration across campus to advance microelectronics related efforts. Currently, the university’s efforts involve research and activity in the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and Economics, the College of Education and the Division of Extended Studies.

“Our coordination of efforts will accelerate Boise State College of Engineering’s ability to educate our engineers and computer scientists, to meet the needs of an increased workforce in our local semiconductor industries,” said College of Engineering Dean JoAnn S. Lighty.

The Institute also will forge partnerships with other universities and community colleges. MER will coordinate and collaborate with higher education institutions in Idaho, the Northwest and beyond.

As part of the effort to establish MER, Boise State will launch a search for an executive director with industry experience who will report to the Provost. In addition to university leadership, an external industrial advisory board and an internal steering committee made up of campus stakeholders will provide guidance to MER.

“The Institute for Microelectronics Education and Research at Boise State will play a critical role helping to strengthen the U.S. semiconductor workforce and technology base, as called for by President Biden and Congress in passage of last year’s CHIPS bill,” said Brian Shirley, head of the MER Industrial Advisory Board. “The Institute provides a focal point to help align the goals and resources of the University with those of the semiconductor industry and the community. I applaud the university for stepping up to the urgent national challenge.”

“Micron’s support of the Institute for Microelectronics Education and Research is the latest in a long history of investment in the Idaho community and commitment to further grow the workforce of the future,” said Scott DeBoer, executive vice president of Micron’s Technology and Products organization. “We look forward to collaborating with the Institute as it leads national efforts to advance microelectronics and semiconductors for years to come.”

Through initiatives like MER, Boise State seeks to foster a supportive environment for high tech industries and our community’s participation in them. The expansion of workforce development and use-inspired research will help tech industries solve modern challenges and lead innovation in microelectronics. Part of this effort will involve significantly increasing the number of undergraduate and graduate students equipped with industry-relevant, interdisciplinary skills. This effort will also involve building upon the unique instrumentation and research expertise at Boise State.