Intel to invest combined $100 million in Ohio, U.S. for semiconductor education program
As the leaders of Ohio's colleges and universities, state elected officials and big tech executives mingled about Columbus State Community College's Mitchell Hall on Thursday morning, guests were not timid about their excitement.
"It's a big day," one said as he took his seat.
"It's going to be huge," a woman replied.
Intel executives, alongside Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, detailed the company's plan to invest $100 million in local and national higher education programs over the next decade.
That investment is three-fold: Intel will invest $50 million in grants directly to Ohio higher education institutions; an additional $50 million will be distributed to educators and science programs nationwide to create STEM curriculum; and another $50 million matched by the National Science Foundation to support new research initiatives across the country.
These investments will establish semiconductor manufacturing education and research collaborations with universities, community colleges and technical education institutions in Ohio and across the United States.
DeWine said there is a strong bipartisan consensus in Ohio that investing in people and their education is the secret to the state's future success.
"We need to make sure that every Ohioan has the ability to live up to their God-given potential, and the answer is no secret," DeWine said. "Education is the key to the future of the state of Ohio."
With plans to break ground in Licking County as early as this summer on its $20 billion semiconductor operation, Intel sees the need to invest in training its future workforce, said Christy Pambianchi, Intel executive vice president and chief people officer.
“At Intel, we strongly believe that investing in education is necessary to ensure we have the right talent to support our growth and help the U.S. regain leadership in semiconductor manufacturing," Pambianchi said at the event.
The two Intel factories, called fabs, will employ 3,000 workers at an average salary of $135,000 per year. On top of that, the project is expected to create 7,000 construction jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs.
But amid a national skills shortage in tech, Intel's investment will help a number of Ohio colleges, universities and technical schools with the funding they need to train this highly skilled workforce.
Those jobs, Pambianchi said, include every level of employment, from those with certificates and two-year associates degrees all the way up to PhD-level candidates.
About half of all positions will be filled by the end of 2023 to allow time for workforce training prior to the plants' 2025 projected opening, said Gabriela Cruz Thompson, Intel's director of university research collaboration.
What will Intel's education funding do in Ohio?
One of the main reasons Intel selected Ohio for its new semiconductor operation is because of its vast higher education network, said Keyvan Esfarjani, Intel's executive vice president and chief global operations officer.
Part of the $50 million in funding will establish the Intel Semiconductor Education and Research Program for Ohio – a collaborative, multi-institution research and education program that will emphasize gaining real-world experience and innovating in semiconductor fabrication.
Cruz Thompson said that none of the money has been allocated to individual institutions yet, and Intel is currently accepting proposals from Ohio-based academic researchers, technical centers, faculty and educators for grants.
Proposals should focus on addressing one of five areas: curriculum development, faculty training, laboratory equipment upgrades, novel research to advance semiconductor fabrication and student opportunities including internships.
About 40% of grant funding will support student experiential learning programs, and Cruz Thompson said the company wants to start distributing grants for upgrading labs within the year.
Some of Intel's other national education initiatives may give Ohioans an idea of what could come to Greater Columbus. This month, Intel announced a new semiconductor manufacturing program called Quick Start with Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona.
Quick Start is an accelerated two-week program that prepares students for future careers as a semiconductor technician, with hands-on learning and instruction from Intel employees.
What national education programs will Intel fund?
Between Intel and its partnership with the National Science Foundation, $100 million will be made available for national tech funding initiatives, novel research and the creation of new STEM curriculum for all education levels.
The NSF will begin soliciting proposals from researchers and educators to develop STEM curriculum at two-year colleges and four-year universities, and to fund new research to advance semiconductor design and manufacturing.
Recipients will receive at least $5 million in grants per year for 10 years as part of this partnership.
Sheridan Hendrix is a higher education reporter at the Columbus Dispatch. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter at @sheridan120. Sign up for her Mobile Newsroom newsletter here and her education newsletter here.