The centre will launch two new research centres and augment its equipment base with a new state-of-the-art “cleanroom” and tools designed to assist with research initiatives that focus on the design, manufacturing, packaging, and testing of semiconductors
Morgan State University has secured an additional $6.8 million in state funding to support the launch of two new research centres that will develop and drive innovation in the design and fabrication of semiconductors and address the challenges facing public school education.
Morgan’s Center for Research and Education in Microelectronics and the National Center for the Elimination of Educational Disparities (NCEED) will receive $3.1 million and $3.7 million respectively in annual state appropriations. The University will now operate a total of nine state-funded research centres with five having been launched over the past five years. Once fully operational, both centres will have the capacity to employ up to 25 new faculty members.
Housed within the School of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Center for Research and Education in Microelectronics will use its funding to support education and research centred on the design and fabrication of microchips. In addition, the centre will focus on training and workforce development in semiconductor manufacturing, preparing students to become the industry’s next generation of professionals. The microchips, also referred to as integrated circuits (ICs), are an essential component of everyday life and can be commonly found in electronic devices, smartphones, radios, TVs, computers, video games, military equipment, and advanced medical diagnostic equipment.
The goal of the recently funded centre is to strengthen and diversify a talented pool of workers
- Michael Spencer, PhD, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Morgan and inaugural Director for the centre
The centre will augment its equipment base with a new state-of-the-art “cleanroom” and tools designed to assist with research initiatives that focus on the design, manufacturing, packaging, and testing of semiconductors. Chip manufacturing is a complex process that requires sterile environments meeting ISO 14644-1 Class 4-6 specifications. To accommodate this complex fabrication process, Morgan is renovating approximately 3,600 sqft of laboratory space.
“The research and training that will be done in this new centre will provide our students with both theoretical knowledge and practical exposure to the technologies used for producing computer chips,” says Willie E. May, PhD, VP of Research and Economic Development and Professor of Chemistry at Morgan State. “Our goal is to prepare them for jobs in one of the most critical areas for U.S. international competitiveness and financial well-being.”
According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, US companies account for 48% of the world’s chip sales, but only 12% of the world’s semiconductor manufacturing, a decrease from 37% in 1990. Currently, 75% of the world’s modern chip manufacturing is centralised in East Asia, with China projected to dominate the chip production market by 2030. Studies also show African Americans make up 4.5% of all semiconductor engineers in the country. To address this critical crisis, President Biden passed the Chips and Science Act which includes investments in HBCUs, allowing them to expand their research capabilities to include training and workforce development on semiconductor fabrication.
“The fabrication, design, and utilisation of semiconductors ‘CHIPS’ impacts everything from social media to National Defense,” said Michael Spencer, PhD, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Morgan and inaugural Director for the centre. “The goal of the recently funded centre is to strengthen and diversify a talented pool of workers. With up-to-date equipment and additional learning resources, we are positioned to provide our students with the necessary skills needed to compete globally.”
To attract potential students, the University will expand outreach to local community colleges and continuing education students offering workforce development opportunities to learn hands-on experience that will allow them to enter the semiconductor industry. The projects will be developed in partnership with local industries to give students a rich and practical experience.
“We appreciate the State of Maryland’s continued support of Morgan State University and its mission of educating and preparing our graduates to lead the world, while leveraging the cutting-edge research being conducted on our campus to address the challenges facing our community, state, and nation,” said David Wilson, President of Morgan. “The investment made into much-needed research centres will go a long way in strengthening our state and further advancing Maryland as a destination for innovation.”