Boise State joins international semiconductor partnership

At last weekend’s G7 economic summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Boise State University President Marlene Tromp co-signs a memorandum of understanding forming a U.S.-Japan university consortium supporting semiconductor programs. (Photo courtesy Boise State University.)

Boise State University will join with 10 other universities in the United States and Japan — as part of a partnership designed to train students for the semiconductor industry.

The agreement, spearheaded by Boise-based Micron Technology Inc., was announced Sunday during the G7 economic summit in Hiroshima, Japan, with parties signing a memorandum of understanding during the summit. Speaking to a Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday, one day after returning from the summit, Tromp touted the agreement.

“It’s one of the most exciting things that I have ever seen happen in my career,” Tromp told reporters after her speech. “I really think it will change the future of this university and this state.”

Micron hopes the program — dubbed U.S.-Japan University Partnership for Workforce Advancement and Research & Development in Semiconductors (UPWARDS) for the Future — will reach about 5,000 students per year. The five-year launch will be funded through $60 million in donations, from Micron, its partners and other parties.

Micron hopes the partnership will promote collaborative semiconductor curricula — and ultimately, help bridge the gender gap in the semiconductor industry and the “STEM” fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

For Boise State students, Tromp said, the partnership will open the door to exchange programs and international workshops, providing an international perspective on a global and highly competitive semiconductor industry.

Tromp said Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra approached her about the program, saying he wanted Boise State to be a part of the partnership. From there, she said, Boise State was able to “connect” the other universities in the consortium. U.S. partners include Purdue University, the University of Washington and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, or Virginia Tech.

Meanwhile, Boise State is working on another proposal designed to open doors into the semiconductor field.

Boise State is proposing to allow any student — regardless of major — to add a semiconductor certificate to their resume. The university already has a similar program allowing all students to pursue a cybersecurity certificate.

The goal of the semiconductor certificate is to provide more students a pathway into the field, and better meet employers’ needs.

“They don’t just need engineers. They don’t just need business students,” Tromp said. “They need different kinds of innovators, people with soft skills.”

The State Board of Education still needs to approve the semiconductor certificate proposal.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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