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SUNY Poly, partner to use $6 million NSF grant for electronics-industry workforce development

By Eric Reinhardt


UTICA, N.Y. — SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) and a California–based trade association will use a $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund workforce-development initiatives for the microelectronics-manufacturing industry.

Milpitas, California–based SEMI is the global industry association representing the electronics manufacturing and design supply chain.

The funding — which NSF will provide over three years — will support the development and implementation of a semiconductor-workforce certification program “designed to meet the industry’s most pressing needs,” per a joint news release about the funding.

The certification program will be part of SEMI Works, SEMI’s “industry-driven” initiative to grow the talent pipeline for the electronics-manufacturing industry. The NSF grant will pay for a pilot program that includes a unified competency model, course curriculum, web portal, and the involvement of industry and training providers.

The project is funded by the NSF’s advanced technological education (ATE) program, which focuses on educating technicians for advanced-technology fields.

SUNY Poly, with campuses in Utica and Albany, will administer the grant and serve as the academic partner for the program.

The NSF funding will enable SUNY Poly to scale its high-tech-centered courses and bolster its support of technology companies in the Albany and Utica regions “and beyond.” The pilot will enable the region to better support STEM education and technology career pathways across K-12, higher education, and adult training. STEM is short for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“SUNY Poly is proud to partner with SEMI and the NSF to address persistent workforce concerns in the high-tech industry by enabling access to qualified talent that has the skills required for success in growing innovation-focused fields,” Grace Wang, interim president of SUNY Poly, said in the release. “As the first region in the U.S. to develop this certification with SEMI, we are thrilled to work alongside industry and government to contribute to the health of the future talent pipeline in New York State, across the United States, and around the globe, while maintaining our region’s leadership in the development of a 21st century high-tech workforce.”

Curriculum, credential

The pilot program will first focus on SEMI’s efforts in developing a “talent-competency” model based on skills the semiconductor industry needs most. SUNY Poly will then leverage the model to build technician-level course curriculum for area community colleges and mechatronics programs. Students completing the courses will earn technician certifications as credentials, endorsed by SEMI, for working in the semiconductor industry.

“The talent shortage is the most critical issue confronting the semiconductor industry today,” Ajit Manocha, president and CEO of SEMI, said in the release. “We are thrilled to partner with the NSF and SUNY Poly in this vitally important step to build a workforce that will continue to drive innovations that are transforming the world and our lives.”

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