An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | June 14, 2021

Land and Maritime Engineering and Technical Support associates participate in 2021 Microelectronics Strategy Forum

By Adil Zuber

The 2021 Microelectronics Strategy Forum was held online and included representatives from academia, industry and the government who gathered to promote policies and activities that increase the throughput and quality of students from K-12 through college for careers in microelectronics and related disciplines. Forum attendees also focused on setting a future roadmap for success within the microelectronics ecosystem.

More than 200 participants attended the 3-day workshop, among them were company presidents, CEOs, Chief Technology Officer university professors, and government and military personnel. Ms. Kristen Baldwin, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering addressed the Microelectronics Leadership Panel and Nicole Petta, from the Office of Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering delivered the keynote address on the DOD Microelectronics Ecosystem Roadmap. Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine also provided remarks. The event was hosted by Academic Partnership Engagement Experiment with Parallax Advanced Research and sponsored by U.S. Air Force Research Labs from Wright-Patterson AFB.

Goals for the ME Strategy Forum included bringing together diverse stakeholders from across universities, large, medium, and small industry, DOD, and U.S. Air Force entities to form alliances committed to organically shaping partnerships to advance microelectronics priorities. Additionally, the forum sought to build buy-in from energized stakeholders at the ground level as they help shape and inform the microelectronics strategic framework. Forward thinking objectives included securing funding and in-kind arrangements through creation and ideation of partnership arrangements that will result in opportunities such as internships, fellowships, and post-education jobs. Success in these efforts will set the stage for a way forward and enduring success of microelectronics strategy which include its mission, vision, and critical success factors.

The State of Ohio was designated by the DOD as a Defense Manufacturing Community. “The ultimate goal is to make Ohio the Midwest Hub for Microelectronics,” said Muhammad Akbar, chief, Land and Maritime’s Engineering and Technical Support Directorate.

“Implementation plans for the microelectronics workforce and industry growth in the Midwest region have identified/designated Ohio as a microelectronics hub for packaging and testing opportunities. This strategy will follow the presidential executive order and the 2021 NDAA for achieving trusted and secured microelectronics for DOD supply chain,” said Akbar.

ME Forum workshop strategies focused on four elements. They included Outreach, which identified outlets intended to optimize the microelectronics program and curriculum gaps that currently exist in Ohio’s K-12 schools.  Education & Employment focused on educating students about career paths that align with employer needs.  Federal Government & Military focused on the microelectronics workforce needed in the federal government and military services including implementation of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021. And finally, Industry & Technology identified technological topics like building institutional capabilities and technology transfer and transition, which are the underpinnings of microelectronics.

Akbar explained that there are 124 companies in Ohio that do research and/or market products in microelectronics-related technologies. A collaboration between six colleges and universities, AFRL and Defense Logistics Agency, referred to as the Cornerstone Consortium Network, was recently awarded $30 million for fiscal years 20-23 under the AFRL Assured Digital Microelectronics Education & Training Ecosystem program. ADMETE builds from prior AFRL-funded collaborative research and addresses what’s been identified as the “lack of interest at the undergraduate level” in microelectronics engineering careers/pursuits.

The network is focused on bringing industry, academia, and government together to work on the development of the current and future Microelectronics workforce. It has five technical areas led by universities in Ohio and neighboring states to develop programs and curriculum, provide internships/externships, and career migration opportunities for government and industry. The Ohio State University, in partnership with WSU, was also recently awarded a contract to support a consortium for universities that serve minority populations to coordinate and expand their ability to propose and perform technical research opportunities stemming from AFRL.

The FY 21 NDAA includes a provision named the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act (CHIPS for America) which was passed to allow for the sustainment and on-shoring of U.S. microelectronics capability. CHIPS included provisions to boost semiconductor incentives, construction, expansion or modernizing facilities, training, education, and employment assistance. The DOD made an $8 million award to GLOBALFOUNDRIES as part of CHIPS for America to support the nation's effort to ensure the U.S. sustains the microelectronics manufacturing capability necessary for national and economic security.