Kenyon will partner with Ohio State University (OSU) and eight other Ohio colleges and universities to form the Center for Advanced Semiconductor Fabrication Research and Education (CAFE) with a $3 million grant from Intel Corporation, one of the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers. The College will also join 22 other schools in creating the Ohio Partnership for a Diverse and Inclusive Semiconductor Ecosystem and Workforce, using a separate grant from Intel.
CAFE, led by OSU, is one of eight proposals awarded funding by Intel to further semiconductor education and research in Ohio. Each proposal is led by an Ohio college or university and includes several partnering institutions across the state. Intel awarded $17.7 million to be split between the proposals, the first step in its promised $50 million dollar investment in Ohio institutions of higher education. Kenyon is involved as a member of the Five Colleges of Ohio Consortium (Ohio5), which includes Oberlin College, Denison University, College of Wooster, and Ohio Wesleyan University. Four other schools — OSU, Central State University, Ohio University and University of Cincinnati — are also participating. CAFE will be headquartered at OSU and will provide research experience and internship opportunities for students at each of the ten institutions.
Kenyon and the other members of the Five Colleges of Ohio Inc. will participate through the Ohio5-OSU Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, which offers students in the Ohio5 paid internship opportunities in science, math and public health fields and which will expand the scope of research opportunities under the new grant. The institutions will also develop educational modules built around semiconductors that they will be able to work into the courses that they offer.
“This is a really exciting opportunity, and we look forward to working with our partners in the Ohio5 and at OSU,” Associate Provost and Professor of Biology Drew Kerkhoff wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Intel’s grant is intended to increase the number of graduates who will enter the microchip industry amid a critical labor shortage, as well as pave the way for new technologies to be developed. Currently, the United States relies heavily on Taiwan as a source of microchips, with Asian countries producing over 70% of global semiconductors. In an effort to strengthen domestic manufacturing and reduce reliance on countries overseas, Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act in August, which will invest $280 billion in scientific research and development, semiconductor manufacturing and workforce development.
Politicians at the groundbreaking of Intel’s new semiconductor plant on Sep. 9 praised these developments. “America invented the semiconductor. Yet today, 90 percent of them are made overseas. That ends now. Today, we are burying the term ‘rust belt.’ We’re breaking ground on an investment in our greatest asset: Ohio workers,” Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said.
Kerkhoff expressed similar enthusiasm about Intel’s grant.“The arrival of Intel is going to transform central Ohio, including Knox County, and we are glad that Kenyon and the rest of the Ohio5 institutions will be actively involved,” he said.