Jun 13, 2022

AMPD Task Force: Indiana Commits to Semiconductor Manufacturing, Research

The United States is a leading developer of semiconductor technology—the computer chips found in vital defense systems and in thousands of everyday products Americans rely upon—but most semiconductor manufacturing happens in places like China, Taiwan, and South Korea. That’s a critical vulnerability for our national and economic security that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation is aggressively addressing through an ambitious new initiative committed to re-shoring semiconductor manufacturing and research in Indiana.





The Accelerating Microelectronics Production and Development (AMPD) Task Force, an initiative introduced May 27 at the inaugural Indiana Global Economic Summit,  brings together industry veterans, academic partners, non-dilutive federal funding consultants, construction and site selection experts, and strategy consultants to leverage Indiana’s considerable advantages in microelectronics.

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers and Jimmy Costa, Senior Vice President of Innovation and Semiconductor Strategy for the IEDC, will lead the 15-member task force. Costa is a former executive with Analog Devices Inc. and design engineer for Delphi Automotive Systems who was heavily involved in the microelectronics industry.

The IEDC has seeded the task force with $2.7 million to be used to design and execute a strategic outreach and marketing plan to secure commitments from established sector leaders and disruptive companies over the next two years to create a vibrant cluster in Indiana. The task force will focus on attracting capital investments by connecting semiconductor companies with local opportunities, including skilled talent, prime shovel-ready real estate, and competitive investment packages. 

“Indiana is uniquely positioned to help the United States boost its semiconductor manufacturing capacity and capitalize on the exciting future of this vital sector,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Chambers, whose 5E strategy for economic development in Indiana focuses on the economy of the future, entrepreneurship, energy transition, environment and telling Indiana’s story through external engagement.

Indiana-based experts in the field believe the state is well-positioned to pursue the semiconductor industry.

"Indiana has quite a story to tell when it comes to microelectronics,” said Mung Chiang, dean of Purdue University’s College of Engineering. “Few people realize that the man widely acknowledged as the Father of Silicon Valley, Frederick Terman, was born in English, Indiana, in 1900; or that Mohamed Atalla, the Egyptian-American who invented the world’s first commercially viable semiconductor, was educated at Purdue."

“So…this work with semiconductors, it’s in our DNA,” said Chiang, “but we urgently need to look forward to the future.”

The push by AMPD to secure Indiana’s place in that future comes at an opportune time, he said.

Chiang said the microchip sector is entering a new phase as it evolves from relying exclusively on generic mega-manufacturers found overseas, but also  in places like Arizona and Texas. There’s a big opportunity now in specialized semiconductor markets, he said.

Indiana has critical assets that can be used to build entire ecosystems for semiconductor research and manufacturing in niches such as open-source semiconductors, fabless manufacturing, and radiation-hardened semiconductors. Rather than going after the entire market, “we can go deep and build out the whole supply chain in specific segments,” Chiang said.

Indiana’s bedrock strengths in logistics and advanced manufacturing are huge advantages in that quest, as is the spirit of collaboration between its world-class businesses, research universities, philanthropic institutions, and government entities. But the state’s biggest advantage might be its growing capacity to meet the semiconductor industry’s workforce challenges.

It is estimated that the United States will need a minimum of 50,000 new semiconductor engineers in this decade alone. Less than 10 percent of that demand is being met today, Chiang said, but Purdue is about to change that.

Purdue already offers a full suite of degrees and credential options in semiconductor fields, but it is upping the ante by curating a specially designed master’s program that is the first of its kind at a Top Five engineering school. The program offers instruction in all major elements of semiconductor production–from raw materials and software/hardware to chip design, manufacturing and packaging—and will produce graduates that are ready to provide value to a company on day one of employment.

Purdue is an established leader in the field of microelectronics exemplified by the lead role it plays in the Scalable Asymmetric Lifecycle Engagement (SCALE) program, a five-year, U.S. Department of Defense-sponsored national coalition of 17 universities aimed at addressing the urgent need to develop a highly skilled U.S. microelectronics workforce. Purdue manages SCALE in partnership with the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, another Indiana asset.

Purdue isn’t alone among Indiana institutions in helping pave the way for Indiana’s microelectronics future.

The University of Notre Dame leads ASCENT, a microelectronics research center funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Meanwhile, Ivy Tech is partnering with Rose-Hulman to develop a two-year semiconductor manufacturing degree with hands-on cleanroom experience.

Besides connecting the semiconductor industry with Indiana’s deep trove of human capital, the AMPD Task Force is also serving as a local incentives consultant, helping companies understand the various programs and funds they can take advantage of in Indiana.

Innovation Development Districts are a new tool AMPD expects to use in its work. The districts, advocated by the IEDC and Governor Eric Holcomb and approved this year by the Indiana General Assembly, allows designation of super-Tax Increment Financing (TIFs) where all generated taxes are directed back into the district and can be used to cover debt, pay for utilities or infrastructure, acquire land, recruit business and even pay for employee training.

Purdue’s Chiang believes such tools, combined with Indiana’s impeccable business climate and considerable assets in the field of microelectronics, place the AMPD Task Force in a great position to succeed.

“It’s an invigorating initiative by Secretary Chambers and his team. They have an executable vision,” Chiang said. “The future of the digital economy relies on semiconductors, and the Hoosier state is going to be one of the top 5 states in the field.”

This article was featured in the June 2022 edition of the IEDC’s newsletter. Subscribe today.