October 5, 2023

Illinois Universities Win NSF Semiconductor Workforce Grants

New grants from the National Science Foundation will create a highly prepared workforce in the booming semiconductor manufacturing industry.  

Technicians in a clean room at the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Northeast Advanced Technological Education Center learn how to operate the equipment used to make semiconductors. Photo from ATE Impacts 2022-2023 via NSF.

Illinois is a premier location for microchip and advanced technology manufacturing, in part due to its numerous research universities and highly skilled workforce. Now, the state is poised to become an even more prominent hub in making the semiconductors that power everything from passenger cars to smartphones.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with Ericsson, IBM, Intel and Samsung, recently announced $45.6 million in grants to more than two dozen U.S. universities, including several key Illinois institutions, aimed at boosting new semiconductor technologies, manufacturing, and workforce training and development.

The grants will benefit the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (UIUC), Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Northern Illinois University, providing new technology and research needs for students. The support will help prepare the in-demand workforce with practical experience for a future in an industry that is seeing a renaissance on American shores thanks to supportive new policies.

The Manufacturing Illinois Chips for Real Opportunity (MICRO) Act creates tax incentives in Illinois for makers of semiconductors, microchips, or component parts. Photo from Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.

The grants come on top of increased support for the semiconductor industry from Illinois. The State’s Manufacturing Illinois Chips for Real Opportunity (MICRO) Act creates tax incentives for makers of semiconductors, microchips, or component parts, and are available in addition to other incentives for companies involved in manufacturing, electric vehicle development, and data center operations.

The NSF grant isn’t the only thing bolstering Illinois’ semiconductor workforce. Samsung Austin Semiconductor recently announced a yearly $1 million contribution to the Grainger College of Engineering at UIUC as part of a new workforce development plan. This program will support engineering students interested in the semiconductor industry, as well as increase opportunities for recruiting top engineering talent. The funds will also allow Grainger College to establish a semiconductor minor program, which will launch in the fall of 2024.

With so many new programs and incentives, it’s no wonder that Illinois is building on its reputation as a top technology and manufacturing hub. To learn more about how we can help your business succeed, reach out to Intersect Illinois.

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