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Intel details $100m plan to boost US chip-making skills

Bold moves to create a 'semi' literate pool of factory workers

Intel plans to spend $100m on improving semiconductor engineering education and research in the US.

This pledge comes as Intel plans to, for one thing, spend tens of billions of dollars on a chip manufacturing mega-site in Ohio and will need a suitable workforce to populate it.

The processor goliath detailed on Thursday how it will spend this $100m, saying it will put half into higher education institutions in Ohio with the hope of lining up enough talent to help fill the 3,000 high-tech job openings when the first two fabs in the state open in 2025. The rest of the cash will be spread across America.

Intel sees this as a crucial step in lessening the industry's reliance on manufacturing in Asia and fighting against future chip shortages that became the norm at the onset of the pandemic. But it will also benefit the company as it tries to regain its manufacturing mojo and become more competitive against rivals.

"Intel is on a mission to lead domestic chip capacity and capability growth, and for this, we need the very best talent available," said Keyvan Esfarjani, Intel's chief global operations officer. "That is why Intel is investing in educational and research programs in Ohio and across the US to address the technical challenges and workforce shortages in our industry."

The semiconductor giant plans to spend the $50m for Ohio schools over the next 10 years, and part of it will be used to create the Intel Semiconductor Education and Research Program, which will help develop new educational programs with an emphasis on "real-world experience" and semiconductor innovation.

Intel is looking for proposals from academic researchers and educators in Ohio for developing new curriculum, training faculty, upgrading lab equipment and researching new breakthroughs in semiconductor research. Intel is also hoping the proposals will create internship opportunities.

They will be using the other $50m to fund new semiconductor education programs across the country at two-year colleges and four-year universities. On this end, Intel is working with the National Science Foundation, which will match Intel's funding for a total of $100m.

From this pool of $100m, Intel and the National Science Foundation will spend at least $5m per year over the next decade to fund educational programs that will build tighter bonds between academic research and early higher education for semiconductor design and manufacturing.  

"Our goal is to bring these programs and opportunities to a variety of two-year and four-year colleges, universities and technical programs, because it is critical that we expand and diversify STEM education. Intel is committed to preparing America's workforce with the technology skills needed now and into the future," said Christy Pambianchi, Intel's chief people officer. ®

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