The @MATEC Archives

Volume 1, Number 1 Promoting the Development of a World Class Work Force in the Semiconductor Manufacturing and Related Supporting Industries
Mike Lesiecki
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The Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center (MATEC) is a Center of Excellence to promote the development of a world class technological workforce for the U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and supporting industries. The Center is a resource for education and industry problem solving, co-created curricula and materials; as well as professional developments that keep faculty current with industry change. With its partners, MATEC aims to identify, articulate and develop curricular products and a variety of services that meet the human resource expectations and culture of semiconductor manufacturing and supporting industries. These products and services will be disseminated to educational institutions, community colleges and industry nationwide.

The semiconductor manufacturing industry, including its supportive related industries, is one of the leading growth industries in the world. The Semiconductor Industry Association estimates that between 1994 and 2000, companies will build and staff 50 to 100 new wafer fabrication plants worldwide, creating over 120,000 new positions. In addition, technological complexity is accelerating rapidly. The Association projections to the year 2010 indicate the overall technology will change four times every three years. Not only do semiconductor-related industries face the challenge of filling new positions with appropriately trained technicians, but they face the more complex problem of how to ensure that future workforce needs can be met and productivity maintained, even when the technologies of the near future are unknown.

To develop their workforce, these industries require workers at all levels of professional development. Three-quarters of their projected workforce will be highly skilled technicians in semiconductor manufacturing, circuit design and facilities maintenance. Entry-level technician positions typically require specialized two-year degree programs built on a solid base of science, mathematics, technology and communication skills.

Although community colleges across the nation are attempting to respond to the industry need for skilled technicians, the number of technicians currently being produced with A.A.S. degrees falls well short of current and projected requirements. A need exists to increase the capacity of community colleges preparing technicians for positions in the semiconductor manufacturing industries.

The Maricopa Community College District, through its Office of Business and Workforce Development, and in partnership with its colleges and national educational and industry partners, applied for a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Center. On September 1, 1996, MATEC joined a national network of ten ATE Centers, all focusing on various high technology fields. The effort is led by the principle investigator, Dr. Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr., Vice-Chancellor for Educational Development at the District. Cathleen Barton of SEMATECH and Tom Lorig of Motorola serve as co-principal investigators.

MATEC establishes a point of convergence for the community to share ideas, information and resources. Our "community" includes educational institutions, industry and government agencies. Members of our community share a common vision to create a workforce that is agile and fundamentally skilled in technology. MATEC respects the self-interests of the individual members and acknowledges the significant effort that has occurred prior to its inception. Our task is to work with and within the community to advance these efforts.