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DURHAM – The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) recently signed a memorandum of understanding to support hands-on research opportunities for undergraduate students in technical areas related to semiconductors. Under the new, five-year agreement, NSF and SRC will jointly support awards through the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program for REU sites on semiconductor-related topics.

The NSF REU program supports meaningful research opportunities across science and engineering topics supported by NSF. Approximately 6,000 students participate in NSF REU sites every year. The typical REU site provides 8 to 10 weeks of research and professional development activities for about 10 students, of whom many are women, persons with disabilities, or Black, Hispanic, or other underrepresented minorities. The research community will be able to apply for funding in 2022, and students will participate at the new sites during the summer of 2023.

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In early 2021 SRC announced its Broadening Participation Pledge to grow its student base by establishing a balanced mix of bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D.-level initiatives while also creating a more diverse and inclusive community. “This new investment directly aligns to SRC’s Broadening Participation pledge while also developing workforce talent in an area of high national priority,” said SRC President and CEO, Dr. Todd Younkin. “This partnership will further the fundamental science and engineering research required to advance microelectronics and advanced packaging technologies and help to develop the diverse science and engineering workforce skilled in both.”

A key part of the SRC research model is developing students seeking post-secondary education. The hands-on work experience provided by SRC Principal Investigators combined with the real-world knowledge from SRC member company researchers results in highly experienced and well-rounded talent. This collaboration takes our mission a step further by reaching to populations that might otherwise miss post-secondary education opportunities. In addition, to help introduce the industry perspective to faculty and students, SRC may interact with Principal Investigators of awards supported with SRC funds, at the discretion of those Principal Investigators. For example, SRC may invite Principal Investigators to share information with students about semiconductor industry career paths and conferences and to connect with representatives of SRC member companies.

“The REU program teaches students to think and work like scientists,” said Sylvia Butterfield, Acting NSF Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources. “It immerses them in authentic research in top-notch research settings at the cutting edge of science and engineering. In this way, the students don’t just learn about science – they learn by doing, under the guidance of very experienced mentors.”

“I am an NSF REU success story,” said Younkin. “I was an REU student in Prof. Lisa McElwee-White’s organometallic chemistry lab, and after a short summer in the program, I was hooked! The experience drove me into graduate studies in Chemistry that led to an amazing career in nanotechnology with Intel. Now, I’m thrilled that NSF, SRC, and SRC members can help create similar experiences for the next generation of semiconductor innovators.”

“NSF recognizes the national need to build the domestic workforce in the areas of semiconductors and microelectronics,” said NSF Assistant Director for Engineering Susan Margulies. “We are pleased to draw on NSF’s ability to create research opportunities for diverse students and to partner with SRC to make rapid progress on addressing this national need and enabling future discoveries.”

About SRC

Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC.org), a world-renowned, high technology-based consortium, serves as a crossroads of collaboration between technology companies, academia, government agencies, and SRC’s highly regarded engineers and scientists. Through its interdisciplinary research programs, SRC plays an indispensable role in addressing global challenges, using research and development strategies, and advanced tools and technologies. Members of SRC work synergistically together, gain access to research results, fundamental IP, and highly experienced students to compete in the global marketplace and build the workforce of tomorrow.