The Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act was signed into law in 2022, providing $280 billion in funding, with $52.7 billion for American semiconductor research, development, manufacturing and workforce development.
Why the big investment? The nation needs to double its semiconductor workforce and triple the number of graduates in semiconductor-related fields, said Scott Jensen, director of workforce strategy for CHIPS at the U.S. Department of Commerce, while speaking at the 2023 Advanced Technological Education Conference in Washington, D.C., in October.
Some community colleges are already involved in this work, partnering with manufacturers to expand the semiconductor workforce and prepare people for good-paying jobs. Ohio’s Lorain County Community College (LCCC) has been training students for careers in the semiconductor and microelectronic manufacturing industry for more than a decade. In November, leaders from CHIPS for America visited LCCC to learn about the college’s microelectronic manufacturing programs and how it works with local employers to prepare students to meet an expected boom in industry demand.
CHIPS for America includes the CHIPS program office, responsible for manufacturing incentives, and the CHIPS research and development office, responsible for the research and development programs.
LCCC offers Ohio’s only associate of applied science and bachelor of applied science degrees in microelectronic manufacturing, as well as short-term certificates. The programs were developed in response to employer need and have 100% job placement rates for graduates. Students have paid internship opportunities built into the curriculum with more than 80 Northeast Ohio employers.
LCCC student Lia Douglas splits her time between the classroom and a paid internship with Lincoln Electric. The college’s focus on post-graduation employment is what drew her to LCCC’s microelectronic manufacturing program.
“This program’s dedication to getting you employed and connected with employers is there from the first semester,” Douglas said. “Within the first week at LCCC, I was soldering; I was in a clean room. Every part of this program is about preparing you for employment.”
More training and employment opportunities are on the way as Intel is building two chipmaking factories in Columbus.