Florida Semiconductor Institute to help lead state in critical chips sector
The University of Florida’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering announced today the establishment of the Florida Semiconductor Institute, a campus- and state-wide coordinating hub to provide intellectual and technological leadership for semiconductors in the 21st Century.
The federal government is investing billions of dollars in efforts to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to the United States and to advance domestic research in chip technology. The newly launched Florida Semiconductor Institute, or FSI, is poised to boost the state’s research and development within the sector as well as build and sustain Florida’s semiconductor workforce, which is now the fifth largest in the nation.
“Microchips are an integral part of our society. The Florida Semiconductor Institute will serve as a hub to coordinate activities that will support the development and manufacturing of these vital chips here in Florida,” UF President Ben Sasse said. “In addition to advancing R&D and educational opportunities, the FSI will advise the state and foster public-private partnerships to enhance what is already a vibrant microchip industry in Florida.”
In 2022, Congress passed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which incentivized the reshoring of semiconductor manufacturing to the United States.
“While some states are just now starting to invest in semiconductor technology, Florida’s microchip industry is well established, and provides mission-critical chips for space, defense, and communication systems,” said Volker J. Sorger, director of the Florida Semiconductor Institute and UF’s Walden and Paula Rhines Professor in Semiconductor Photonics. “As the hub for statewide chip efforts, we look forward to working with the state and private sector to launch an unprecedented workforce-development campaign, lead cutting-edge R&D, and empower strategic partnerships.”
The Florida Semiconductor Institute includes participation from more than 60 faculty within the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering representing every department as well as from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Furthermore, it includes academic partners from other universities across Florida and a variety of private industry partners.
“Florida universities offer programs that prepare students for careers in semiconductor technology,” said Ray Rodrigues, chancellor of the State University System. “The launch of the Florida Semiconductor Institute will further connect learners at all levels with industry leaders and forge pathways for economic success through valuable workforce education programs.”
Forrest Masters, UF’s interim engineering dean, said the different fields within engineering must work together to advance the performance and assurance of future chip technology.
“Through a cross-disciplinary approach, we can innovate and develop the workforce that is needed,” he said.
To meet the university’s educational needs, the FSI will launch a comprehensive education and training program that will serve not only universities but also state colleges, vocational schools, and private industry.
“Our vision is to double the state’s semiconductor workforce within a few years,” said Mark Tehranipoor, chair of UF’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, or ECE, and the Intel Charles E. Young Preeminence Endowed Chair Professor in Cybersecurity. “In conjunction with other educational state institutions and UF departments, ECE will provide a large number of university-level courses with additional professional training programs such as the Microelectronics Security Training (MEST) Center, which provides flexible, expert-led training programs tailored to industry needs.”
Activities within the institute have already begun with several workshops and team meetings held to discuss workforce development and cutting-edge R&D directions. Members are preparing for upcoming rounds of federal funding and potential state initiatives to drive translational research and innovative educational programs, Sorger said.
The Florida Semiconductor Institute will be housed in Malachowsky Hall for Data Science & Information Technology, a brand new 263,000-square-foot academic building located in the heart of UF’s main campus, slated to open this fall.
What they’re saying:
“We are excited to work with all institutions and businesses in Florida and beyond to identify current and future workforce needs, create well-designed training programs to meet those needs, and team up to prepare the next generation of workers for the semiconductor industry. Together, we will provide flexible and rigorous options for every learner, which will range from comprehensive degree programs to targeted micro-credentialing and from hands-on laboratory experiences to online training.”
-- Jack Judy, deputy director for semiconductor workforce development and the Intel Nanotechnology Chair at UF
“The semiconductor industry is of central importance to the health of our economy and, indeed, our nation. The Florida Semiconductor Institute is another great example of how the University of Florida is helping prepare students for a world increasingly reliant on chips, science, and AI.”
-- Chris Malachowsky, a UF alum, co-founder, and fellow of NVIDIA, who has helped spearhead a $70 million AI partnership with the university
"Partnerships make good ideas great, resulting in transformative solutions that drive long-term impact. Through industry-relevant research and strong partnerships across industry, academia, and the semiconductor ecosystem, imec has impacted innovation and advanced product roadmaps for nearly 40 years. By joining forces with our NeoCity partners to share knowledge and pool resources, we can accelerate innovation, solve complex problems, safeguard sensitive technologies, and create solutions that will shape the future. In this interconnected world, collaborations are not just a choice, but a necessity, as they enable us to leverage diverse perspectives, bridge gaps, and unlock the full potential of technology to improve lives, empower communities, and build a better tomorrow."
-- Raj Jammy, president of operations, imec USA
“We are pleased that the Florida Semiconductor Institute has launched this initiative. SkyWater is committed to industry-university collaboration, which is crucial to strengthening and advancing U.S. leadership in semiconductors. We have been actively engaged in our target states with relevant partners to establish dynamic and immersive learning initiatives in support of the CHIPS Act workforce development component. The FSI’s plans for strategic investments in R&D align well with SkyWater Florida’s domestic advanced packaging capabilities, which will contribute to securing the nation’s semiconductor supply chain.”
-- Thomas Sonderman, president and CEO, SkyWater
“To bring unparcelled capabilities to our customers we need the state-of-the art microelectronics capabilities in our close vicinity for logistics and supply chain reasons. This expansion initiative comes at a pivotal time. Expanding the domestic semiconductor ecosystem is paramount for ensuring resilient supply chains, and strengthening university partnerships is critical for maintaining technological superiority. We are happy to be partner as Florida is making key investments to ensure long-term success.”
-- Ed Zoiss, president, Space and Airborne Systems, L3Harris headquartered in Melbourne, Florida.