ASU microelectronics workshop addresses national effort to develop workforce

Leaders in industry, government and higher education discuss shared vision for advancing microelectronics talent pipeline

January 31, 2023

Last week, microelectronics leaders from across the nation came together for the 2023 Microelectronics Education and Workforce Development, or MEWD, Workshop, which highlighted the importance of improving semiconductor research, development and training across Arizona.

The workshop was organized by the Secure, Trusted, and Assured Microelectronics, or STAM, Center in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. A close-up view of a semiconductor chip. Organized by the Secure, Trusted, and Assured Microelectronics Center in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU, the 2023 Microelectronics Education and Workforce Development Workshop highlights the importance of improving semiconductor research, development and training across Arizona. Photo courtesy Pixabay Download Full Image

Michel Kinsy, director of the STAM Center and an associate professor of computer engineering, identified a crucial need for discussion and cooperation among stakeholders from various fields amid a national resurgence in microelectronics research and manufacturing.

“I wanted an intimate setting for folks to freely share ideas, not just of what they are doing themselves but what vision we should embark on collectively,” Kinsy says. “Hopefully the connections and the networking that started here can lead to more collaboration and overall greater outcomes for the nation and ASU as we move microelectronics forward.”

The event brought together multiple sectors involved in microelectronics efforts, including government departments, industry representatives, national labs, universities and military entities.

Speakers presented on specific facets of microelectronics that their organizations specialize in — including security, manufacturing, translational research, workforce development efforts, reskilling initiatives, curriculum development and more — and addressed how each of their teams is addressing workforce challenges.

“At ASU, we’re focused on building new infrastructure, growing the pipeline, providing and anticipating opportunities and looking for translational outcomes,” says Kyle Squires, the ASU vice provost for engineering, computing and technology and dean of the Fulton Schools. “Being able to scale programs to reach a large number of learners is key, in addition to expanding access to get more workers in the pipeline and delivering flexibility in our programs to meet learners where they are.”

Other efforts at ASU include a regionally collaborative proposal to establish the Microelectronics Commons, a national network funded by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, to close the innovation “lab-to-fab” capabilities gap in the United States.

Many presentations addressed a shared goal of achieving scale, access and flexibility, with outcomes for the workshop including growing a diverse and highly skilled pipeline of microelectronics employees and developing a common infrastructure that enables more access to testing and implementing new semiconductor technologies for operational use as part of their training.

Keynote speaker Dev Shenoy, principal director for microelectronics for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering in the U.S. Department of Defense, agrees that building the workforce is vital.

“Workforce development and an increased emphasis on microelectronics education is critical for the U.S. to be successful in onshoring semiconductor manufacturing,” Shenoy says. “The CHIPS and Science Act will foster the pipeline of talent through the Microelectronics Commons, for example, to strengthen the workforce where it is needed and bolster local economies where hubs and core facilities are located.”

In addition to the Department of Defense, other government entities present included the U.S. Department of Commerce and its National Institute of Standards and Technology, the CHIPS Act implementation team and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

“We want to return leading-edge manufacturing to the U.S.,” says Jessica R. Nicholson, workforce policy advisor for the CHIPS Act. “To do that, we need to create an ecosystem of manufacturers and suppliers, equipment materials researchers and designers in processes, and build a trained workforce. The availability of these resources will drive innovation across the technological and industrial sectors.”

Among the other attendees were industry groups including SynopsysRaytheon TechnologiesBoeingSiemens Government Technologies and BAE Systems. There was also representation from military organizations, including the DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

National laboratories in attendance included Argonne National LaboratoryPacific Northwest National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.

In his presentation, Rick McCormick, a representative from the Microsystems Engineering, Science and Application Center at Sandia National Laboratories, alluded to the strong correlation between manufacturing and innovation, and the impact of student collaboration.

“The way we execute our mission is heavy partnering within the government and all kinds of companies,” he says. “Three-quarters of the projects have university partners associated with them, with one of our partners being ASU.”

All event participants agreed that higher education institutions play a crucial role in bridging the workforce gap in microelectronics, with universities including ASU, Northern Arizona UniversityUniversity of ArizonaGeorge Washington University and Morgan State University in attendance to discuss how opportunities through each school are preparing students to enter the workforce. 

A key discussion surrounded how to engage more diverse populations, including members of minority groups, veterans and community college students. University participants also highlighted the importance of pathway programs and reaching students at a young age, with K–12 pipelines to guide students toward microelectronics during their early education, such as at engineering summer camps and at ASU Preparatory Academy.

Squires detailed current efforts including the Microelectronics and Nanomanufacturing Certificate Program — offered in partnership with Penn State, the University of California San DiegoGeorgia Institute of Technology and Norfolk State University — to reach active military personnel and veterans with stackable credential certifications at four strategically located regional partner sites.

The sites, which are located in Phoenix, Atlanta, San Diego and Norfolk, Virginia, will each offer the program in collaboration with one state university and one local community college. In Phoenix, this will include Rio Salado College and ASU.

“Students who go through this program can achieve the kind of certification that industry understands and values,” Squires says.

The workshop also featured an academic panel on microelectronics training needs and an industry panel on talent needs, in addition to a tour of ASU’s MacroTechnology Works in Tempe. Led by Zachary Holman, an associate professor of electrical engineering in the Fulton Schools, the tour explored the facility and its efforts in accelerating semiconductor, advanced materials and energy device research.

“The MacroTechnology Works facility is a very unique space that will be integral in building physical infrastructure and advancing research, in addition to providing opportunities for training, internships and partnerships,” Squires says.

Squires also noted that the recent launch of ASU’s School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks, part of the Fulton Schools, exemplifies the university’s efforts to address current and future challenges and provide a center of gravity across engineering disciplines to focus on efforts relating to manufacturing.

“This workshop and the engagement that it fostered highlight the sort of interactions that we want to be having on a regular basis around this important topic,” Kinsy says. “Our goal was to open the door for continued discussions, which I believe we have achieved.”

Annelise Krafft

Communications Specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


AAAS honors 2 ASU anthropologists as lifetime fellows

January 31, 2023

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals, has elected Arizona State University anthropologists Katie Hinde and Amber Wutich to the newest class of AAAS Fellows, among the most distinguished honors within the scientific community. 

Katie Hinde

Hinde is an associate professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, a core faculty member at the Center for Evolution and Medicine, an associate professor with the Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative, School of Life Sciences interdisciplinary graduate faculty and a senior global futures scientist with the Global Futures Scientists and Scholars Network Side-by-side portraits of ASU professors Katie Hinde and Amber Wutich. Katie Hinde (left), associate professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and Amber Wutich, President’s Professor and director of the Center for Global Health, were recently named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Download Full Image

She is being honored for “distinguished contributions to the study of evolution of mothers’ milk, gendered experiences in science and public outreach of science,'' according to a release from the AAAS. 

“I cannot overstate how much this fellowship means to me," Hinde said. “As a biological anthropologist working at the intersection of the life and social sciences, the ‘big tent’ of the AAAS has been exceptional at inspiring me to think about the connections we can make and the impacts we can have as scientists. Not only does the AAAS bring scientists together, but the organization is dedicated to engagement with policymakers, collaboration with public communities and development of transformative programs like the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion.”  

Throughout her career, Hinde has received numerous awards and honors. She has developed original content reaching both academic and general audiences regarding her studies on mothers’ milk and celebrating science through storytelling. Her TED Talk has been translated into 31 languages and is used by ministries of health in other countries. 

Hinde has studied the food, medicine and hormones of mother's milk in multiple species of mammals, including differences in milk for sons and daughters and how mother's milk influences infant behavior in monkeys. By organizing large collaborations among anthropologists and biologists, Hinde has explored how global variation in human cultural practices show up in the composition of human breast milk. Combining an evolutionary lens with a social science sensibility, Hinde has worked in her publications and public engagement to translate findings from the bench to the bedside. Her interest in the topic started as an undergraduate student.

ASU Associate Professor Katie Hinde seated in front of book shelves.

ASU Associate Professor Katie Hinde is being honored for “distinguished contributions to the study of evolution of mothers’ milk, gendered experiences in science and public outreach of science,'' according to a release from the AAAS. Photo courtesy Katie Hinde

“At the time, there had only been two studies ever on individual differences in milk composition among primates from an evolutionary perspective, and I just kept having questions,” Hinde said. “Pretty soon it became clear that if I wanted answers to my questions, I would have to tackle the research myself. And those spark questions I had as an undergraduate, writing notes in the margins of my class-assigned readings, were the foundation for my PhD research and have framed my career for two decades.”

Hinde is also frequently recognized for her public outreach, including activities such as March Mammal Madness. As the founding director of the collective effort, Hinde and her collaborators work together to merge science with storytelling, working to make science attainable through weaving it into the narrative of the game. 

“I think the mandate of 21st century science is that we not only pursue our scholarly curiosities, but that we engage communities too long excluded from celebrating science and that we forge a better academy to welcome the young scientists we inspire,” Hinde said. “To be recognized for achievement in all three of these is meaningful to me personally, but even more, this speaks of a broader promise within our scientific community.

Amber Wutich

Wutich is a President’s Professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and director of the Center for Global Health at ASU. She is also associate director of the Institute for Social Science Research and a senior global futures scientist with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory. 

Wutich is being honored by AAAS for “distinguished contributions to the field of environmental ecology, water resource use and global mental health issues, particularly using advanced cross-cultural research methods,” they announced in a release.

She is an expert on water insecurity and knew at the start of her career that she wanted to focus on water scarcity. What surprised her over the decades is the connection between mental health and water scarcity.

Professor posing with community workers in a rural setting.

President's Professor Amber Wutich in the field with Bolivia Community Partners. Photo courtesy Amber Wutich

“The pivotal moment came when I was working in Bolivia on informal water systems, like water sharing or bartering, after the Cochabamba Water War,” Wutich said. “I thought I’d help solve water delivery problems, but people told me I really ought to be asking them about their feelings: how distressing, angering and worrying water scarcity was for them. That’s when my career in global mental health took off, and it wasn’t something I planned or trained for at all.”

Wutich’s career includes numerous awards and honors. She has done extensive fieldwork, raised millions of dollars in research funding and has published numerous articles and books on her work looking at health through a nuanced, anthropological and cross-cultural lens.

Wutich and co-author Alexandra Brewis, President’s Professor with the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, released their award winning book “Lazy, Crazy, and Disgusting: Stigma and the Undoing of Global Health” in 2019. In the book, Wutich draws on her experiences working with people living with inadequate sanitation in places like South America and the U.S.-Mexico border to uncover the stigmas associated with these living conditions and the harmful cycle those stigmas create.  

“For all anthropologists, a big question is which parts of being human are universal, and which ones are just situational? Are humans inherently greedy? Do gender inequities exist in every society? Does environmental collapse always lead to human chaos?” Wutich said. “Studying concepts like greed or gender globally means we have to modify our questions to fit with local culture, language, behaviors and context. That’s what we do in cross-cultural methods; we make it possible to ask and answer the big questions about humanity.”

The School of Human Evolution and Social Change is well represented within the AAAS Fellows. Hinde and Wutich are joining the ranks of over 10 other current and emeriti faculty from the school as AAAS Fellows. 

“We are fortunate to have Katie Hinde and Amber Wutich as part of our faculty teaching the next generation of students innovative research in anthropology,” said Chris Stowjanowski, director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. “Congratulations to these two scientists who are being recognized for their outstanding work and social contributions."

Nicole Pomerantz

Communications specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change