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College of Engineering launches offerings to bolster Idaho semiconductor workforce

For the last two years, in response to the the CHIPS and Science Act, Boise State University has positioned itself as a leader in the semiconductors and microelectronics fields, working grow the industries with new courses, certifications and degree pathways for Idahoans of all ages. 

The College of Engineering created the Institute for Microelectronics Education and Research to serve as a centralized location for interdisciplinary collaboration on microelectronics. This institute will is leading research and the recruitment and education of students interested in microelectronics to expand the workforce of this in-demand industry.

The work is supported by the $5 million Idaho Workforce Development Council grant, “Semiconductor for All,” which is developing knowledge from high school to bachelor’s degrees to graduate degrees across all the disciplines needed for this workforce, particularly in engineering and computer science.

“Over the last several years, several of our faculty, in particular in our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, have been meeting with key stakeholders and working on curriculum to be able to respond to the needs of the semiconductor workforce,” College of Engineering Dean JoAnn S. Lighty said.

New partnerships with community colleges at the College of Southern Idaho and College of Western Idaho have created pathways for two-year students to receive financial assistance in finishing their undergraduate education at Boise State in engineering and computer science.

These pathways further extend the College of Engineering’s reach,  impacting students across southern and western Idaho. In addition, students in the college now have access to multiple courses and certificates to bolster their careers in the semiconductor workforce.

“The college and its departments are developing new courses, adding new content, and developing pathways to prepare students for careers in the microelectronics industry to serve the Idaho ecosystem and the region,” said College of Engineering Associate Dean of Research Jim Browning. “While these efforts began with focus on undergraduate and graduate students at Boise State, we will continue to evolve these programs to support community colleges, other Idaho universities, and industry.” 

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the College of Engineering will offer three certificates and a minor to address the state and national need for trained experts in the field of semiconductors.

Semiconductor Device Physics Certificate

This 13-credit certificate offered by the Electrical and Computer Engineering department provides students with an understanding of semiconductor device physics exposing them to memory, logic, optoelectronics, and other types of devices and circuits in courses such as Introduction to Quantum Physics, Fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering, Semiconductor Devices, and more. 

Integrated Circuit Design Certificate

Electrical and Computer Engineering offers a 13-credit certificate that provides students with the fundamentals of integrated circuit design, exposing them to developing architectural solutions to simulate, optimize, verify, and implement their design with industry-standard computer-aided design tools in courses such as Microelectronics Circuits, Digital Integrated Circuit Design, Digital Hardware Design, and more. 

Semiconductor Processing Certificate

A new 11-credit certificate from ECE provides students with a cleanroom experience, teaching them about semiconductor manufacturing flow and exposing them to fundamental levels of semiconductor processing including cleanroom safety and infrastructure, wet chemistry, plasma processing, thermal processes, and photolithography through current and planned courses such as Introduction to Integrated Circuit Processing, Electrical Properties of Materials, and more. This certificate is available to students across engineering and science disciplines.

Industrial Processes Certificate

This 12-credit certificate provides students with production and manufacturing aspects of engineering exposing them to industrial design and control, production processes modeling, and design for manufacturing in courses such as Manufacturing Process Control and Improvement, Production Engineering, Human Factors Design, and more. 

Industrial Engineering Minor

The industrial engineering minor is an interdisciplinary program designed to prepare engineering students on complex manufacturing and supply chain systems developing analytical and managerial skills in preparation for careers in industry. This 21 credit minor provides students with the tools needed to apply engineering concepts to issues faced by production, service, and supply chain organizations in courses such as Engineering Economy, Principles of Supply Chain Management, Advanced Device Design and Simulation, and more.

In addition to courses and certificates, the College of Engineering is currently pursuing a grant to upgrade current clean room capabilities in the Idaho Microfabrication Laboratory. Boise State’s clean room is the only university clean room within 300 miles of Boise.

The clean room at Boise State opened in 1998 after a generous $2.25 million donation from seven industry partners. Since its opening, undergraduate and graduate students engage in research and develop expertise in microelectronic device design, fabrication, safety and more.

To learn more about how Boise State is leading in semiconductor education and research, visit the Boise State Works for Idaho website.