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Purdue Launches First U.S. Semiconductor Degrees Program to Drive Growth in Critical, High-Demand Industry

U.S. economic security critically depends on developing talent pipeline in this vital field

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Semiconductor chips are the foundation upon which all modern digital economies are built. As electronic devices have become more complex, so have the intricacies of semiconductors across the supply chain. In the next five years, a minimum of 50,000 trained semiconductor engineers will be needed in the United States to meet the overwhelming and rapidly growing demand. Purdue University has answered that call, becoming the first in the country to launch a comprehensive set of innovative, interdisciplinary degrees and credentials in semiconductors and microelectronics.

Semiconductor Degrees Program (SDP), the suite of innovative Purdue degrees and credentials, will educate both graduate and undergraduate students, enabling a quick ramp-up of skilled talent and creating the next-generation of semiconductor workforce to reassert American preeminence in this critical industry.

Unveiled as a plan in September 2021 and officially launched in May 2022, Purdue SDP touts five distinct features that set it apart from other educational programs:

  • 6-in-1 content: Chemicals/materials, tools, design, manufacturing, and packaging — all semiconductor industry’s key steps in one interdisciplinary program, plus supply chain management.
  • Choice of credentials: Master of Science degree, stackable certificates at the postgraduate level, Bachelor of Science minor/concentration; plus, associate degrees through partner Ivy Tech Community College.
  • Flexible modality: Both residential and online programs. First-of-its-kind online offering in the United States dedicated to semiconductors.
  • Innovative delivery: Through online learning platform nanoHUB and virtual labs, co-op and internship opportunities, and design-to-fab team projects.
  • Broad partnership: Cornerstone with Department of Defense’s SCALE (Scalable Asymmetric Lifecyle Engagement) program, American Semiconductor Academy (ASA), and other Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act workforce consortia. SDP is also advised by a leadership board of industry senior executives.

“The need to restore self-reliance in the semiconductor industry is both an economic priority and a national security imperative,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “We are proud of Dean Chiang and his colleagues for placing Purdue in a position of national leadership in this all-important endeavor.”

Details of the Semiconductor Degrees Program

With state-of-the-art facilities such as the Birck Nanotechnology Center and nanoHUB and more than 50 world-leading faculty members whose research expertise spans the entire spectrum of semiconductors and microelectronics, Purdue is poised to be the academic leader in semiconductor education, research, and industry partnerships.

Purdue’s College of Engineering is supporting the SDP by investing substantial seed funding for student success in three ways: (a) Providing summer-long Semiconductor Experiences for Undergraduates, which will prepare them for co-ops and internships with semiconductor companies, (b) Supporting chip “tapeouts,” which will enable graduate and undergraduate students to have their chip designs fabricated in a semiconductor foundry, and (c) Funding scholarships for students in the new interdisciplinary MS degree.

The undergraduate experience will begin with a freshman introductory course that features a guarantee of internships or co-op experiences for students who perform well, leading to semiconductor minors and concentrations as options. Graduate students also will have a “project-based” option for the MS degree, or stackable certificates at MS level, that will prepare them to be workforce-ready upon graduation. Students will design, fabricate, and test their own semiconductor chips through innovative partnerships with industry.

Students will learn the manufacturing and design of chips as well as the entire supply chain, which includes the chemical engineering of processing; the mechanical engineering of tool development; thermal management, packaging, material engineering of new materials for chips and packages; and the industrial engineering of supply chain, logistics and manufacturing optimization. Students will have the freedom to customize their own plans of study to focus on specialized sub-fields such as system-on-chip design, heterogeneous integration, and emerging devices, among others.

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About Purdue University
Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last four years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://stories.purdue.edu/.

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