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Microchips, also known as integrated circuits (ICs), are a crucial component of our daily lives and can be found in various electronic devices such as smartphones, radios, TVs, computers, video games, military equipment, and advanced medical diagnostic equipment.

However, studies reveal that only 4.5% of semiconductor engineers in the United States are African Americans.

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In response to the CHIPS and Science Act’s implementation in 2022, the White House announced additional investments of $50 billion in American semiconductor manufacturing, bringing the total business investment to almost $150 billion. Currently, East Asia holds 75% of the world’s modern chip manufacturing, with China projected to dominate the market by 2030.

The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 aims to strengthen American manufacturing, supply chains, and national security. It also aims to invest in research and development, science and technology, and future workforce in emerging industries, including nanotechnology, clean energy, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence.

The legislation also includes investments in historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), enabling them to expand their research capabilities and include training and workforce development in semiconductor fabrication. Chip manufacturing is a complex process that requires sterile environments meeting ISO Class 4-6 specifications.

Morgan State University, a leading HBCU in Maryland, is renovating about 3,600 square feet of laboratory space to accommodate this complex fabrication process.

In the spring of 2023, Morgan State announced that it would receive nearly $3.1 million in state funds to establish the Center for Research and Education in Microelectronics.

The center will be located in the School of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and will support education and research focused on the design and fabrication of microchips.

The center will augment its equipment base with a “clean room” and tools designed to assist with research initiatives that focus on designing, manufacturing, packaging, and testing semiconductors.

Willie E. May, vice president of research and economic development and professor of chemistry at Morgan State, said, “The research and training done in this new center will provide our students with theoretical knowledge and practical exposure to the technologies used for producing computer chips. Our goal is to prepare them for jobs in one of the most critical areas for US international competitiveness and financial well-being.”

Recently, Morgan State University hosted an announcement of a $3 billion federal investment in advanced chip packaging manufacturing in the United States.

Laurie Locascio, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) director, and Lora Weiss, the undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology and the director of CHIPS research and development, made the announcement.

The National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (NAPMP) will invest $3 billion in programs, including an advanced packaging piloting facility for validating and transitioning new technologies to US manufacturers, workforce training programs to ensure a capable staff for new processes and tools and project funding.

The NAPMP is one of four CHIPS for America R&D programs that establish the innovation ecosystem required to ensure that American semiconductor fabrication facilities, including those funded by the CHIPS Act, produce the world’s most sophisticated and advanced technologies.

In her speech at Morgan State University, Locascio explained how the U.S. would benefit from the Department of Commerce CHIPS for America program’s manufacturing incentives and research and development efforts.

The investment promises to bring a new era of microelectronics innovation, research, and education to Maryland’s most prominent historically Black university.

Advanced packaging is a modern design and manufacturing method that puts multiple chips with various functions in a densely interconnected two- or three-dimensional package. This approach requires an interdisciplinary approach that brings together chip designers, materials scientists, process and mechanical engineers, measurement scientists, and others. It also requires access to resources such as advanced packaging facilities.

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