Ohio State launches CAFE program for semiconductor research, in collaboration with Intel and other Ohio universities

Yessica Jiminez participates in materials engineering research at the materials institute facilities as an undergraduate student. Courtesy of Mike Huson

Amid the construction of two new Intel computer chip factories in Ohio, the Ohio State Institute for Materials Research is developing CAFE – the Center for Advanced Semiconductor Fabrication Research and Education – as a multi- institutional for the advancement of research in the manufacture of semiconductors.

According to a September 9 Press releasethe center will provide an experience for graduate and undergraduate students by creating a “sustainable, highly skilled and diverse semiconductor manufacturing workforce” and paving the way to cutting-edge device technology through research .

According to Semiconductor Industry Associationsemiconductors are microchips that are “the brains of modern electronics”, helping to power smartphones, televisions, computers, medical equipment and more.

IMR Office of Research Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer Jay Sayre said negotiations between Intel and the university took place between three-person teams from each institute.

“Intel is a very integrated ecosystem, and the interests of Intel and the interests and capabilities of the university align,” Sayre said.

Intel pledged $3 million over three years to fund CAFE, according to the Press release.

IMR communications coordinator Mike Huson said Intel’s two new computer chip factories will provide new internship opportunities for Ohio State students. As new facilities start up, students will have the opportunity to apply for these opportunities and work in Intel’s manufacturing labs.

“In my mind, if I’m a student and interested in Intel, that’s an immediate route for me to be involved with CAFE,” Huson said. “It would give me the opportunity to work in this lab whether or not I have a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree. Regardless, they have needs for all that.

Sayre said opportunities for students beyond paid internships include graduate research internships and undergraduate research experiences at Intel facilities in Ohio, Oregon and Arizona. Internships are available at all three institutions. The positions are open to all university students and will allow graduate and undergraduate students to collaborate on their research, he said.

Sayre said students will gain an understanding of the tech industry to inform their lab work.

“Students have the opportunity to understand how this research might be implemented and to come back and actually do this research in a lab with this kind of industry-informed perspective, Sayre said.

Sayre said the CAFE program will integrate Ohio State research with nine other Ohio public universities, led by Ohio State in close collaboration with the University of Cincinnati and the University from Ohio. The CAFE program will provide opportunities and funding to Central State and Wilberforce universities.

Sayre said this collaboration between universities is important to continuously evolve the tech industry.

“This type of communication exchange will be essential to ensure that we are always relevant, always evolving, always on the cutting edge of technology as we move forward,” Sayre said.

Sayre said CAFE also extends to Ohio’s existing 5-OSU Summer Undergraduate Research Experience Program — which allows students from Denison University, Kenyon College, Oberlin College , Ohio Wesleyan University and the College of Wooster to visit and work in the Ohio State Laboratories.

Sayre said Ohio State professors who have worked for Intel or in the semiconductor industry will guide the training of CAFE students; they will learn how to operate laboratory cleanrooms and create devices at the facilities of Ohio State’s Nanotech West Laboratory, which contains the largest cleanroom facility in the state.

Huson said that through expanding semiconductor manufacturing research, Ohio State will help other Ohio universities advance research opportunities for students and eventually contribute to Intel’s workforce.

Sayre said students will be able to contribute directly to next-generation technologies and find future opportunities in Ohio.

“That’s why institutes like ours exist within the context of the university – to provide that for faculty and students, so we create these unique environments and opportunities where everyone’s talents can come together in an interdisciplinary and coordinated way. “Sayre said.

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