Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

University adds more semiconductor opportunities to match area’s growing need for talent

Breyona Mitchell

As the semiconductor industry grows in Austin, the University announced a new master’s degree program and collaborative Semiconductor Training Center to better prepare students for the field at the end of last month. 

The new Master of Science in Engineering program will offer education in semiconductor science and engineering starting in fall of 2025 and aims to give students more hands-on experience. The Semiconductor Training Center, a collaboration between UT, the Austin Community College District and the Texas Institute for Electronics, will give students the space, materials and resources to do the same. 

Michael Cullinan, the director of the master’s program, said most students in UT have the skills to go into the semiconductor field but do not have the training to do it.

“That’s really where this kind of master’s degree comes in — to get people who have those sorts of technical skills the opportunity to move into an industry where there’s a huge demand for talent right now,” Cullinan said.

The degree starts with three mandatory introduction courses, each focused on different sectors of semiconductor engineering, allowing students to choose what track to specialize in.  The program will also offer a certificate with an online version of the introductory courses, aiming to increase flexibility for future students who may work full-time in the field or to help undergraduates get ahead in the program.

In the second semester of the program, students will partner with a faculty member and a company to develop a research idea. Over the summer, the students will intern with the companies and carry out the research they will write a report on during their third and final semester. This collaboration aims to create a pathway for students to enter into the semiconductor industry, Cullinan said.

Cullinan said a minor in semiconductor science and engineering for undergraduate students is in the approval process. If approved, it will launch in the fall of 2025.

Adithyan Vetrivelan, a graduate student who worked in the campus Semiconductor Power Electronics Center, said he noticed an increase in student interest in joining the semiconductor field. While the center allowed him to gain enough experience with semiconductors, he said the new program will be helpful for students. 

“I had the luxury of time to be able to take a few more courses than I needed to and do all sorts of things, but if it was more condensed I think that could have sped up the process,” Vetrivelan said. 

The new degree program plays into a UT and ACC partnership with a similar goal of preparing students for the semiconductor industry through curriculum development and the creation of the Semiconductor Training Center, said Laura Marmolejo, associate dean for advanced manufacturing at ACC. 

The Texas Institute for Electronics committed $3.75 million to develop the training center, a chip fabrication facility at UT’s J.J. Pickle Research Campus. 

The partnership aims to not only ease the transition from college to the workforce, but also the transition from ACC to UT, Marmolejo said. 

“Education has changed a little bit nowadays, all the skills are relevant, and that’s why it’s important for the college to move in a more innovative way,” Marmolejo said. “It’s interesting how education is changing to meet the needs of students but also the economy.”

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About the Contributor
Breyona Mitchell, Associate Comics Editor
Breyona is a sophomore english and studio art double major from Houston, Texas. Currently, they work as the associate comics editor and has previously drawn for the paper as a senior artist. They love playing video games with their friends.