Student engagement and workforce development in microelectronics get a boost

The Northeast Microelectronics Internship Program, an initiative launched by MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) to connect college students to semiconductor and microelectronics industries, recently secured a $75,000 grant for expansion. The Northeast Microelectronics Coalition (NEMC) Hub awarded $9.2 million in grants to promote technology advancement, workforce development, education, and student engagement.

Founded by Tomás Palacios, the Clarence J. LeBel Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT and MTL director, NMIP received the grant to overcome barriers hindering students from pursuing careers in technological fields.

Palacios emphasized the importance of undergraduate students in the microelectronics workforce, stating, “This program bridges the gap between students and industry partners by providing internships in the early years of college, addressing the main reason students opt for industries that hire undergraduates more frequently.”

The grant announcement occurred on Jan. 30 with key attendees including Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey, Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao, U.S. Department of Defense representatives, and the Microelectronics Commons director at NSTXL. The grant aligns with the NEMC Hub’s workforce development strategy to enhance microelectronics and semiconductor industries in the Northeast Region.

The NEMC Hub, a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, has kicked off its investment portfolio by supporting NMIP with a workforce development grant. This initiative follows the establishment of the NEMC Hub in September 2023, under the federal CHIPS and Science Act.

Preetha Kingsview, the program manager, highlighted the program’s growth and the positive impact of the grant on advancing the mission to link talented students to the microelectronics sector. Integrating core values, the program aims to create connections with NEMC Hub and MassTech to amplify its reach.

The financial support from NEMC Microelectronics Commons Hub will enable NMIP to extend its program across the Northeast, nurturing skilled workers for the microelectronics sector. The program, attracting 296 applications in 2024, partners with over 25 industry collaborators and facilitates industry-focused internships and field trips to microelectronics companies for participating students.

Christine Nolan, the acting NEMC Hub program director, expressed enthusiasm for the program’s expansion, anticipating a broader impact benefiting more students and microelectronics companies regionally and nationwide. Through hands-on training, the program aims to develop a skilled workforce to support NEMC Hub’s mission and national CHIPs investments.

Sheila Wescott from MACOM, a semiconductor developer in Lowell, shared success stories from NMIP and their interest in hiring interns from the program. Engaging with students of diverse backgrounds, Bin Lu, CTO of Finwave Semiconductor, praised NMIP for promoting microelectronics technology and their commitment to continued collaboration.

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