UA gets $35.5M to support growing semiconductor manufacturing industry in Arizona
The University of Arizona College of Engineering was awarded $35.5 million in funding to expand a facility that supports semiconductor manufacturing, workforce training and research.
The Arizona Commerce Authority gave the award, which will help address the semiconductor and chip processing workforce shortage the state faces as it continues to build out the industry.
Liesl Folks is with the university. She says the pandemic highlighted major supply chain issues.
“Automobiles weren’t shipping because we couldn’t get semiconductor parts, chips. Washing machines were slowed down, like all kinds of stuff. And it really highlights globally, not just for us, but for many nations, that there were these critical points of weakness in the supply chain for semiconductors," Folks said.
She says in three years she expects the UA facility to be modernized with updated technology, resources and infrastructure.
She also says they will develop an augmented and virtual reality training curriculum on semiconductor technologies for students. This will help counter in-person lab constraints.
“You can’t bring in 100 students at a time. Typically you can manage to train people at about six students at a time. So it’s very hard to build a big workforce six students at a time," Folks said.
This is a part of a $100 million investment that had been announced last year to beef up the semiconductor industry in the state.