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Workforce Development (WFD)

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Mission Statement for WFD

California and Oregon employ over one third of the U.S. semiconductor workforce and Hawaii is a major center for defense technology. Our region is home to R&D facilities for leading chip manufacturers, equipment providers, chip design firms, and innovative startups, all of which drive a regional need for a workforce pipeline. The Northwest-AI-Hub allocates 20% of its operating budget to workforce development, demonstrating a deep commitment to three objectives: (1) cultivate the local technician workforce through university fab internships for community college students and veterans, (2) democratize integrated circuits (IC) design education with new, open-source curricula, and (3) address the "exposure gap" through K-12 engagement. Our end goal is a vibrant workforce ecosystem that is greater than the sum of its parts. 


Priority 1: Regional Technician Training

The semiconductor workforce is graying, with nearly 40% over age 50 and less than 25% under 35 (SIA report May 2021).  44% of employees do not have bachelor’s degrees, a demographic with the least geographic mobility. For this reason, we will partner with regional community colleges to cultivate a local technician workforce pipeline through hands-on, paid internships and professional development programs with emphasis on veterans and underrepresented groups. Hub funding will enable each university to expand on its own, local internship program and coordinate professional development opportunities across the Hub. We aim to build a supportive and inclusive community that leverages our collective resources to expand the number of candidates and the ways they can enter the semiconductor workforce. We will build on existing fab internship programs and create pathways for interns to pursue further internship and professional opportunities with Hub partners.

Priority 2: Open-Source Chip Design Course

The industry has a need for IC design professionals who are fluent in electronic design automation (EDA) and process design kits (PDKs), but current teaching toolkits to train them are lacking. The Northwest-AI-Hub will establish and maintain a platform for exchange of open-source laboratory exercises and design flows using open-source platforms to enable complete design of systems‐on‐a‐chip (SoC). We will develop chip design flows as well as repositories of complex IP blocks to enable curriculum development through community supported shared expertise. The Hub will cultivate the chip design community through design contests that make use of open-source technologies and cloud environments for lowering the barrier-to entry and increasing participation and awareness of chip design, as well as meetups at major conferences where community members share best practices for design and course building, and students can network with industry professionals to seek internships and full-time jobs.

Priority 3: K-12 Engagement and Beyond

Building the professional workforce pipeline starts with opening up our children to possibilities, especially in underserved communities. The Hub will enhance existing, successful programs by connecting people and resources, leveraging opportunities through a shared commitment to make STEM education inclusive and accessible by everyone.