semiconductor being held by a pair of tweezers

A new partnership between The University of Texas at Austin, Austin Community College District and Texas Institute for Electronics (TIE) will make Central Texas a premier hub for comprehensive workforce development that will fuel the needs of America’s semiconductor industry. The joint program will serve as a one-stop shop for an industry in need of skilled labor, creating seamless and coordinated education pathways between UT and ACC to address every skill set on the semiconductor workforce continuum, ranging from equipment technician to semiconductor engineer.

Under the partnership, UT, ACC and TIE will:

  • Develop a joint Semiconductor Training Center (STC), allowing students at UT, ACC and across the nation to receive hands-on technical training combined with academic theory. It also will host programs designed to transition current workforce talent into the semiconductor industry and advance the careers of incumbent workers.
  • Develop Semiconductor Curriculum & Credentialing. Leveraging faculty members from both institutions along with industry experts, this initiative will build stackable skill-based microcredentials and related education activities, with plans to develop K-12 partnerships.

The joint initiative will help build the pipeline of skilled workers at all levels that are necessary to support an estimated 115,000 new semiconductor jobs expected to be added to the U.S. economy by 2030. A recent report from the Semiconductor Industry Association and Oxford Economics found 67,000 of those new jobs are at risk of going unfilled because of an undersized workforce and lack of training programs.

“UT has a rich history as a leader in the semiconductor industry not only in Texas, but across the country, helping position the U.S. to compete globally with the most advanced technology and qualified workforce,” said President Jay Hartzell. “America needs a skilled and sustained workforce to bolster our supply chain and mitigate disruptions. Our partnership will help achieve this by bringing together our exceptional faculty, students and top-ranked programs with Austin Community College’s nationally renowned workforce training, all in the heart of Austin’s well-established innovation ecosystem.”

Texas leads the nation in semiconductor manufacturing and is tied among states with the second-most semiconductor workers. In Central Texas, semiconductor and the broader advanced manufacturing workforce demand is expected to continue to rise sharply due to the growth and relocation of industry leaders including Samsung Austin Semiconductor, Applied Materials, NXP Semiconductors, Tokyo Electron and Tesla.

“The semiconductor industry is a critical part of our local economy, and it’s growing. ACC is already recognized as one of the leading institutions in the nation for building curricula and programs that support this industry. We have the capacity to create just-in-time programs that support employers and workers, and we want to develop a model that can be scaled across the nation. ACC is proud to partner with UT to take this work to a new level,” said ACC Chancellor Russell Lowery-Hart. “When we can collaborate through programs like the STC, we’re giving our students the best of both worlds — access to one of the nation’s top research universities and ACC’s advanced teaching and training facilities.”

As part of the agreement TIE will commit initial funding of $3.75 million to develop the STC and will provide research opportunities for students and educators at its state-of-the-art chip fabrication facilities at UT’s J.J. Pickle Research Campus and its semiconductor plant on Montopolis Drive, originally home to Sematech. TIE has 84,000 square feet of clean-room space. The agreement will also leverage facilities of industry partners.

“We and our academic and industry partners understand this is a pivotal moment for America’s semiconductor industry and that we have a unique concentration of some of the world’s top talent, facilities, experience and funding to establish a sustainable workforce and establish long-term leadership,” said John Schreck, CEO of TIE, a partnership between the State of Texas, semiconductor and defense electronics companies, national labs, and 16 Texas-based academic institutions. “Just as important, our partnership is unified behind this goal, and we are ready to build out this regional ecosystem.”

The Texas Legislature has appropriated $552 million to TIE, paving the way for its pursuit of federal CHIPS Act funding.

UT and ACC are at the forefront of producing an exceptionally skilled workforce to meet the semiconductor industry’s needs. Building on its established national leading programs, this month UT announced a new Master of Science in Engineering with a major in semiconductor science and engineering. The program will launch in Fall 2025 and aims to help meet the demand for semiconductor scientists and engineers through hands-on experience in four core areas: manufacturing, circuits and systems, heterogeneous integration, and devices.

In Fall 2023, ACC developed the Semiconductor Technician Advanced Rapid Start (STARS) curriculum as a rapid upskilling program intended to bridge incumbent workers with foundational technical skills to a manufacturing technician role. This program was developed in collaboration with the Austin Regional Manufacturing Association and leaders in the regional semiconductor industry — including Samsung Austin Semiconductor, NXP, Tokyo Electron, Infineon and Applied Materials. The STARS program provides a customized blend of theoretical and hands-on training necessary for these positions, all in a condensed four-week, full-time schedule.

“Austin Community College is a regional leader for workforce development training programs that build direct paths for students to train and get the skills needed to meet the growing needs for Central Texas’ manufacturing workforce,” said Jon Taylor, corporate vice president, Samsung Austin Semiconductor. “Partnerships with ACC and our peers in the industry are vital in creating a unified approach to foster opportunities to achieve and sustain economic prosperity.”

The first training programs expected to launch through the STC could begin as early as January 2025.