CITRIS and Intel collaborate to enhance semiconductor training opportunities for UC undergraduates

Collage of three photos: A NanoLab intern in full cleanroom PPE by a large machine; a pair of forceps holding a computer chip; a different intern in PPE adjusting a nozzle in the NanoLab.

Multinational semiconductor company Intel has awarded a grant of $56,500 to the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute (CITRIS), a California Institute for Science & Innovation at the University of California (UC), to expand semiconductor education and workforce training for UC students.

The collaboration builds on the achievements of the CITRIS Workforce Innovation Program by creating the CITRIS-Intel Emerging Engineers Program, which will provide opportunities to undergraduate students to help develop on-ramps into the semiconductor workforce. Participants will also attend a weekly workshop series that will address professional development skills, team-building, effective communication, career planning and collaboration in the workplace. The program will culminate in a symposium where students will showcase what they learned. 

To foster inclusion in the semiconductor sector, academically qualified students from the 2024 CITRIS Workforce Innovation applicant pool will be identified as potential candidates for the program, emphasizing diversity in gender identity, Pell Grant eligibility, and first-generation and transfer status. 

Since its inception in 2022 with support from a special one-time state award, the CITRIS Workforce Innovation Program has matched over 160 UC students with more than 75 host organizations, providing paid internships in areas of IT innovation crucial to California: aviation, climate and energy, digital health, robotics, and semiconductors. Two new tracks, cybersecurity and data for social impact, have been introduced to broaden access to these rapidly growing fields. 

“The CITRIS Workforce Innovation Program has seen great success in recruiting a diverse pool of exceptionally skilled students to match with companies, labs and organizations in emerging tech sectors most in need of talent,” said Jill Finlayson, managing director of the CITRIS Innovation Hub, which oversees the Workforce Innovation Program.

Intel’s funding will also enable the addition of a second section of a popular microfabrication class at UC Berkeley, Electrical Engineering 143: Microfabrication Technology. The course, led by senior faculty member Ali Javey, Lam Research Distinguished Chair in Semiconductor Processing and a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, has a consistent waitlist due to high demand, typically accommodating around 45 students per session. 

“The course has gained popularity among students aspiring to enter the semiconductor industry,” said Javey. “With Intel’s support, we can enhance our resources and cater to a larger student population, expanding the development of a new generation of experienced semiconductor professionals.”

The class covers a comprehensive microfabrication curriculum, delving into integrated circuit device fabrication, surface micromachining technology and other fundamental materials, design and manufacturing processes that are driving advancements in the field. It also takes students into the Berkeley Marvell Nanofabrication Laboratory at CITRIS to practice hands-on fabrication and testing procedures in a cleanroom environment. By the end of the semester, students have gained fundamental knowledge and skills to empower them for a seamless transition from the classroom to the workplace.

“We’re excited to collaborate with Intel in guiding students toward educational opportunities and fulfilling careers within the semiconductor field,” said Camille Crittenden, executive director of CITRIS and the Banatao Institute. 

“The growing semiconductor industry has an immense need to attract the best and brightest minds to tackle some of the world’s most complex technical challenges,” said Shawn Klauser, senior director of strategic planning capital operations for the manufacturing, supply chain and operations team at Intel. “Empowering these students with the right tools, knowledge and experiences will benefit them individually and also contribute to the industry’s advancement. 

“The Emerging Engineers Program strengthens the relationship between CITRIS and Intel and contributes to the development of a skilled and diverse semiconductor workforce.”

Applications for the CITRIS Workforce Innovation Program are due on Jan. 31.