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ASU poised to help close microchip manufacturing gap

August 9, 2022

'We’ve focused in areas that are directly relevant to the CHIPS Act'

Bipartisan congressional approval of the CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law Tuesday by President Joe Biden, will drive a $52 billion investment by the federal government to help expand and accelerate U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, an important step for an industry critical to both economic competitiveness and national security. 

Arizona State University, along with a host of state economic development and business leaders, has been deeply engaged to support Sen. Mark Kelly’s efforts to build a consensus in Washington, D.C., for the CHIPS and Science Act. That’s not by accident.

“Universities are the place in which the basic ideas of electronics, electrical engineering, computational systems and algorithm-driven tools have all been invented, discovered and advanced,” ASU President Michael Crow said. “Universities have been essential and integral to all aspects of the development of computation.”

ASU’s work in this space began when Motorola moved to metropolitan Phoenix in the 1950s and began looking for engineering talent — at a place then called Arizona State College.

“ASU is a foundational institution, deeply connected to the semiconductor industry,” Crow said. “The early seeds of the advancement of ASU as an engineering and industrial-oriented institution, long before it became a university, began around the semiconductor industry. ASU has evolved one of the most significant engineering schools in the world. We have advanced materials and research activity equal to any university on the planet.” 

Nevertheless, while research and discovery continued in the United States, microchip manufacturing began moving offshore in the late 20th century, and today the country imports more than 90% of the chips it needs for consumer goods and national security. The gap is obvious. The issues addressed in the CHIPS and Science Act legislation have been in the university’s sights for several years.

“This is a validation,” said Kyle Squires, dean of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “We have made investments, hires and we’ve focused in areas that are directly relevant to the CHIPS Act through hiring, facilities, unique tool sets and one of the science and technology centers that are in line with this.”

What the federal investment means, according to Squires, is a greater focus and a more accelerated pace of activity. The state of Arizona has seen a lot of investment from companies in microelectronics and a greater focus on semiconductor manufacturing in the last two years. Congressional approval of federal investment in this industry will fuel private-sector activity that will advance America’s global competitiveness. China has been making national investments in this technology for years.

“The big deal about the CHIPS Act is that it provides certainty,” Squires said. “If you are one of the companies making these investments, having certainty unlocks a lot more conversation about what is next in terms of expansion and, for the big players like TSMC and Intel, the next step in their strategic plans.”

In addition to an infusion of resources into where the market stands today, Crow is quick to point out that along with expanded manufacturing comes additional research and development. 

“What is essential to Arizona is not just the expansion of manufacturing, but also the leading research, discovery and development for innovation of what comes next,” Crow said.

ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise is already working to connect the laboratories where research is done to the fabrication plants where chips are manufactured — a “lab-to-fab connection.”  

“Having research and development as part of this bill not only recognizes the nation’s capability in innovation and research, but actually supports it in a real way and is a very important commitment,” said Executive Vice President Sally Morton, who leads the ASU Knowledge Enterprise. “ASU has been planning for this and is already dedicated to this as a public university. We have the capability to scale education on all fronts, which is terribly important to achieving success.”   

ASU has already been at work in anticipation of congressional approval. Now, the work expands and accelerates. But the assignment is truly national in scope; no single company, agency or institution can deliver the necessary resources to provide the solution.

Informed by that, the university’s next step is to advance the creation of a National Network for Microelectronics Research and Development, a nationwide network of chip manufacturers, labs and universities such as ASU with complementary strengths allowing secure transfer of knowledge between member institutions and researchers, which is critical.

ASU’s unique technical capabilities, its world-class faculty, and the scale and breadth of the Fulton Schools of Engineering and its graduates are of the highest quality. Add to it the university’s proximity to and relationships with industry leaders like Intel and TSMC, and it makes ASU a singular center of value for what the CHIPS and Science Act will enable.

As a bonus, congressional action at the federal level corresponds to the strategic investment for the past two years by the state of Arizona. The CHIPS and Science Act is an investment that works in strategic harmony with Arizona’s New Economy Initiative.

“The parallels are strong,” Crow said. “Arizona’s New Economy Initiative is built around the advanced semiconductor materials and advanced systems. The key to all of it is the building of the Fulton Schools of Engineering. We are doing that, have been doing that and will continue to do that. This is exactly what we have been preparing for, and everyone involved at the university is eager to take things to the next level.” 

MORE: Engineering an advanced manufacturing ecosystem at ASU

After the CHIPS and Science Act, what comes next for ASU?

1. Support all U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturers and their supply chains.

2. Development of human capital for industry — more and higher quality engineers and scientists. 

3. Expand ASU research activities and research capabilities.

4. Compete to make Arizona a national center for advanced semiconductor research and development, as prescribed in the CHIPS and Science Act.

Top photo: Researcher Mason Mahaffey works inside a research area with lasers at the MacroTechnology Works research facility in the ASU Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, on July 28. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

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ASU Online film and media studies student awarded Sundance fellowship

August 9, 2022

Miciana Hutcherson living out dream she envisioned as young girl in Alaska

It takes a couple of weeks to arrange an interview with Miciana Hutcherson.

She’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma, working on the set of a film titled "Fancy Dance," and she’s busy day and night, weekdays and weekends.

The film, which Hutcherson co-wrote, is about a Native American woman living on the reservation whose sister goes missing. The woman then kidnaps her niece to try to keep their family together and out of state custody.

Headshot of ASU film student

Miciana Hutcherson

It is Hutcherson’s entry into the world of film, a world she has dreamed about since she was a little girl, a world that became possible because she Googled “online film programs” one day and read about the opportunities at Arizona State University.

“That’s what opened the door for me,” said Hutcherson, a senior who recently was awarded the Sundance Institute's Women of Sundance Adobe Fellowship. “ASU has been a huge blessing in my life.”

That door opened only because Hutcherson, who hopes to graduate in December, wanted what was beyond her grasp.

She grew up in Juneau, Alaska, a member of the Tlingit tribe. (Her Tlingit name is Aak’w Tu Shaa.) She hunted and fished and was a member of the All Nations Children Dance Group, but also spent a lot of time indoors and bored because, in Juneau, she said, “It rains like 300 days a year and snows the other 65.”

Hutcherson knew she wanted to see and experience what was beyond Juneau. Movies at the local theater became her aspiration, even if they were make-believe worlds spooled onto a screen.

“I was not a small-town person mentally, so going to the movies was the quickest way to escape,” Hutcherson said. “I could see the outside world, learn about other people and stimulate my imagination. And then once I found out that you could make it a career, I was sold.”

There was just one problem. Haskell Indian Nations University, where Hutcherson first attended college, did not have a film program. So after earning her bachelor’s degree in Indigenous and American Indian studies and needing an online program, she put Google to work.

Up popped ASU at the top of the search engine.

There’s good reason for that. ASU Online, which has 503 students enrolled this fall in the film and media studies online program, has consistently been ranked by websites like, and as one of the top five places to get an online film degree.

“I wasn’t in a position where I could go to a physical college and commit to being there every day and doing that for four years, and ASU’s degree seemed really flexible and really accessible to someone who is working on the side doing these other things. And it’s really worked out that way,” Hutcherson said.

In 2018, Hutcherson participated in the Department of English’s Sundance Film Festival internship, and the relationships she made there encouraged her to apply for the Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program Fellowship. That experience led to the Adobe Fellowship.

“Access provides opportunity,” said Kevin Sandler, an associate professor in the film and media studies program and the internship coordinator. “It increases the chance that you can make something out of it, especially if you are talented and have gumption, charisma and drive.”

The Women of Sundance Adobe Fellowship awards all eight fellows mentorship, skill-building workshops, coaching, introductions to industry contacts, referrals to career development opportunities and a $6,250 cash grant.

It also provided Hutcherson a treasured support group.

“Some of the women in the program are producers, some are writers, some are directors, some are all three,” Hutcherson said. “So it’s really a way for us to learn from each other.

“Film is a male-dominated field. At times, you feel as a woman like you’re alone in the void, so to have this fellowship where other people are feeling the same way as me, they’re going through these same creative struggles and coming from a similar point of view is really important. It feels like we’re the ones that are creating more space for those filmmakers that are coming up behind us.”

In addition to "Fancy Dance," Hutcherson has written "Nancy’s Girl," which led to her acceptance into Sundance’s Indigenous Program. "Nancy’s Girl" is about a young woman whose dream of living in Los Angeles crumbles, and she’s forced to move back home and live with her mom in a small town.

Both "Nancy’s Girl" and "Fancy Dance" draw from Hutcherson’s life.

“You don’t see women in film depicted in a way that feels like it honors women as 360-degree, fully dimensional, fully fleshed characters,” Hutcherson said. “They’re always falling into a category of like the siren or the angry chick or all these sorts of things.

“So, I’m really drawn to stories of women who are able to explore all of their emotions and share all of who they are, because those are the women that I was raised by. I was raised by a single mom. My mom was raised by a single mom. I come from this long line of women who had to be all these different things. That’s something that really speaks to me.”

Hutcherson has achieved her first dream. The life she envisioned outside Juneau has come true. But now she has another dream, and this one, ironically, has her returning home and opening up a production studio in Alaska.

“It’s really hard to film up there,” Hutcherson said. “But it is so rich in stories and characters that the world hasn’t seen or had access to. I really want to give back to my community in that way.”

Scott Bordow

Reporter , ASU News