Penn State, NSYSU to partner for advancing semiconductor education, research

May 31, 2024

By Tessa M. Pick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State and the National Sun Yat-Sen University (NSYSU) in Taiwan announced that they will partner on the development of educational and research programs focused on semiconductor technology and photonics.

The Penn State College of Engineering and the NSYSU College of Engineering and College of Semiconductor & Advanced Technology Research signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in early April.

The fast-growing industry of semiconductor technology in the United States and the manufacturing of semiconductor chips in Taiwan helped form this initiative, according to Madhavan Swaminathan, head of electrical engineering, William E. Leonhard Endowed Chair in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and director of the Center for Heterogeneous Integration of Micro Electronic Systems (CHIMES).

“The semiconductor industry is expected to be a trillion-dollar industry by 2030,” Swaminathan said. “Taiwan manufactures more than 50% of the world’s chips, and the U.S. is investing $52 billion dollars as part of the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act to fuel innovations and leadership in this field. The work at NSYSU and Penn State is specifically poised in this direction and provides an opportunity like never before to be involved in the future of semiconductors.”

The MOU outlines a plan to create numerous opportunities for collaboration in the fields of semiconductor technology and photonics. These opportunities include professional training programs; faculty, graduate student and/or postgraduate student exchanges; joint research projects and educational programs; exchanges of research materials, publications and information; and developing and conducting joint seminars and academic events.

The collaboration between Penn State and NSYSU sparked the creation of a one-year master’s program in semiconductor technology at Penn State. The first cohort of students will join the program in the fall of 2024. Swaminathan said creating student-faculty relationships that help advance semiconductor research could lead to an increase in funding and partnerships with industry leaders.

According to Swaminathan, this MOU was first discussed when Tsung-Hsien Lin, Chair Professor of Department of Photonics at NSYSU, arrived at Penn State as a visiting scholar. While at Penn State, Lin conversed with numerous engineering faculty, including Swaminathan, Zhiwen Liu, professor of electrical engineering at Penn State, and Iam-Choon Khoo, William E. Leonhard Professor of Electrical Engineering at Penn State, about the possibility of a formal collaboration focused on semiconductor technology and photonics. When Swaminathan visited NSYSU in 2023 and met with leadership, the partnership was solidified further with the support from both NSYSU and Penn State leadership.

“NSYSU created the College of Semiconductor & Advanced Technology Research with large investments from the semiconductor industry in Taiwan,” Swaminathan said. “NSYSU is becoming a major player in semiconductor packaging and their photonics program is world class, with top-notch faculty.”

The creation of the Mid-Atlantic Semiconductor Hub and CHIMES put Penn State at the forefront of the semiconductor industry in the United States, according to Swaminathan. The MOU will aim to foster relationships that span many departments in the college and include numerous faculty and students from Penn State.

“As we train the next generation of engineers, collaborations like this one become increasingly important,” said Tonya L. Peeples, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean in the Penn State College Engineering. “We are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with NSYSU, an institution that, like Penn State, has a demonstrated dedication to leading education and training for semiconductor technology and photonics. This MOU represents both Penn State’s and NSYSU’s commitment to advancing the field.”

To celebrate the signing of the MOU, Penn State and NSYSU hosted the Semiconductor Technologies and Photonics Workshop on May 14-15 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. This workshop kicked off an international forum on semiconductor technology and photonics by bringing together researchers from both universities, industrial representatives, and other interested parties to discuss the latest progress and future trends in the fields.


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