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National Science Foundation awards $1.2 million in grants to ASU's Polytechnic campus for Microelectronics Teaching Factory prog

February 10, 2003

The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.2 million in grants to Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus to develop curriculum and outreach programs in connection with the campus's new $6 million Microelectronics Teaching Factory.

ASU's Polytechnic campus will receive two grants: the first for $599,126 to create an educational outreach program to mentor students and urge them to pursue careers in science, technology and engineering; and a $599,074 grant to create curricular programs for the Teaching Factory.

"The NSF grant further validates the importance of the ASU's Polytechnic campus Microelectronics Teaching Factory," said ASU Vice President and ASU's Polytechnic campus Provost Charles Backus. "Together with the industry and state support for this high-tech facility, these grants will help us prepare work force ready graduates for the global semiconductor industry."

The Teaching Factory is a 15,000-square-foot, full-process teaching model of a semiconductor manufacturing cleanroom. In essence, it is a transported cleanroom. When Intel Corp. closed the doors of its Arizona Fab 6 operation, the company donated the factory's full tool set to the university. Motorola donated an additional $2 million in equipment and services, in addition to donations of equipment or consulting services by Amkor, ST Microelectronics, On Semiconductor, Microchip Technologies and Texas Instruments.

"Today, the Teaching Factory contains a full complement of the major process tools required to manufacture functioning integrated microchips," said Lakshmi Munukutla, associate dean of the College of Technology and Innovation and principal investigator for the two NSF grants. "It is as close as a student can get to the semiconductor work experience without stepping foot on a factory floor."

Partnering with Central Arizona College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College and Mesa Community College, and the region's semiconductor industry, the Teaching Factory will be used by students in associate's through master's degree programs. Additionally, semiconductor industry employees seeking certification or continuing education classes will use the facility. The larger NSF grant that ASU's Polytechnic campus received will focus on developing curriculum for these programs.

The other NSF grant, for the "Arizona STEP to Success" program, will focus on mentoring Arizona students in grades 7 through 16 in the areas of math, science, technology and engineering. ASU's Polytechnic campus will heavily utilize the Teaching Factory in this program as it works to interest young adults to pursue science and technology careers. The university will be joined in the program by Pima Community College, the Sunnyside School District, the Arizona Science Center, Intel, Microchip Technologies, ST Microelectronics and Texas Instruments.