School of Engineering and Computer Science

Oakland University joins Midwest Semiconductor Network

icon of a calendarMarch 1, 2023

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Oakland University joins Midwest Semiconductor Network
Hongwei Qu
Hongwei Qu, a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Oakland University, will serve as the liaison to the Midwest Semiconductor Network.

Oakland University has joined a coalition of universities and colleges in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana that have come together to form a group called the Midwest Regional Network to Address National Needs in Semiconductor and Microelectronics.

The goal of the collaborative will be to leverage existing research, curricular and experiential learning programs to increase innovation in semiconductor and microelectronics — including in supply chain ecosystems.

As the liaison contact at OU, Professor Hongwei Qu is excited about the potential opportunities provided by the network.

“With the passage of the CHIP Act, the U.S. is bringing back home the semiconductor manufacturing industry,” Qu said. “Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the two leading companies in advanced chip fabrication, have invested in their next generation manufacturing facilities in Ohio and Arizona respectively. It can be anticipated that a large work force is needed to facilitate the manufacturing. Microelectronics and semiconductor devices will be a fast-growing area in very near future. Because semiconductor and microelectronics are highly interdisciplinary, numerous other subjects, especially STEM-related majors, will be in high demand.”

At the undergraduate level, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Oakland University offers two ABET-accredited degrees, a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.) with a major in electrical engineering, and a B.S.E. with a major in computer engineering. These programs emphasize the importance of hands-on experience, and many courses are accompanied by laboratory sessions led by faculty and graduate students.

“Semiconductors are becoming a big focus area after all the supply chain problems we recently experiences, and we have these two programs that are perfect for addressing the shortage of engineers with relevant experience,” said Dr. Osamah Rawashdeh, professor and chair of the ECE Department at OU.

In addition to Oakland University, the Midwest Regional Network includes: The Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, Case Western Reserve University, Central State University, Columbus State Community College, Clark State College, Illinois Institute of Technology, Ivy Tech Community College, Kent State University, Lorain County Community College, Miami University (Ohio), Michigan State University, Ohio University, Purdue University, Sinclair Community College, University of Akron, University of Chicago, University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Louisville, University of Michigan, University of Notre Dame, University of Toledo, Wayne State University, Wright State University and Youngstown State University.

The network was formed following a two-day workshop in April hosted by Ohio State. It is a recognition of the recent decision by Intel Corporation to build new, leading-edge chip factories in Ohio and to address the broader, national efforts to promote U.S. leadership in semiconductors and microelectronics.

“This multibillion-dollar investment in the Midwest presents an incredible opportunity for our partner colleges and universities,” said Grace Wang, Ohio State’s executive vice president for research, innovation and knowledge. “We face global competition for talent to stay at the leading edge for research and development. Only through collaboration can we truly realize the promise this opportunity affords us.”

Initial activities for the Midwest Regional Network include:

• Develop a common, secure, information-sharing platform to make it easier to identify expertise, equipment, facilities and curricular programs of interest to facilitate joint programming, research, and/or outreach initiatives across the network. 

• Encourage regional collaborations and promote workshops around opportunities to pursue funding that will grow regional capacity to support identified needs across the semiconductor and microelectronics ecosystems. 

• Develop pilot mechanisms to connect existing research, facilities and curricular/training assets across the region to optimize their use to address regional needs and opportunities. 

A steering committee with representation from all schools will coordinate the next steps for the network.


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