Education & Workforce Development

Female engineer

The semiconductor revolution over the past six decades has led to 11 orders of magnitude improvements – resulting from the shrinking of feature sizes and the corresponding exponential increase in the number of transistors per processor, as well as innovations in advanced materials, processing, devices, design, and architecture – impacting every aspect of human endeavor. 

The federal investment through the CHIPS and Science Act coupled with investments from industry and state governments promises to reinvigorate and transform the U.S. semiconductor and microelectronics sector. The workforce needs of this growing sector present a monumental challenge. To address this challenge, our nation will need an over 100,000-strong skilled workforce that includes a range of expertise from technicians to talented engineers and scientists from diverse backgrounds.

RPI – with nearly 200 years of history of technological innovations, major strengths in research and education in microelectronics/semiconductor areas, and geographical location in one of the most vibrant chips manufacturing hubs in the U.S. – is well-placed to lead research, education, and workforce development.

Our focus is on talent, content, and scale. We focus on attracting diverse talent and creating and expanding pipelines to chips-centric STEM careers. We are developing and launching new educational programs – minors, certificates, and degrees in semiconductors/microelectronics. And we aim to scale our impact through workshops, short-courses, and online learning via the School of Engineering and Rensselaer@Work partnership.

Innovative Curricula and Experiential Learning

Across our science and engineering departments, RPI offers over 70 courses addressing fundamentals, applications, and hand-on laboratories in microelectronics, semiconductors, and advanced manufacturing. We are collaborating with industry partners to co-teach courses that are at the frontiers of chips manufacturing. We are also launching three new graduate certificates in Devices and Processing, Circuits and Systems Design, and Power Electronics, and an M.S. program in Semiconductor/Microelectronics.

Learn more about courses offered by our departments

The Talent Pipline

We are engaged in exciting outreach initiatives to K-12 schools (e.g., Chip Champs, Engineering Ambassadors, Rise High, and others), hosting events on our campus (e.g., Black Families Technology Awareness Day, the Semiconductor Summit), and are collaborating with community colleges to expand the talent pipeline. In the Fall of 2023, RPI and Hudson Valley Community College launched the RPI-HVCC Semiconductors Scholarships program.  In addition, our centers also host undergraduate students for summer research experiences with focus on students from URM and HBCU institutions.

Learn more about about our outreach initiatives

Scaling the Impact

To meet the large workforce demands of the U.S. semiconductor industry, we must scale the impact of our education. The School of Engineering is collaborating with Rensselaer@Work to make semiconductor/microelectronics education available through digital learning coupled with short, focused hands-on laboratory experiences on the RPI campus. In addition to technical education, we will be offering curricula in leadership and innovation, especially at the intersection of technology and business, and also educating professionals confronting the associated challenges of supply chains, economics, and systems engineering.

Learn more about Rensselaer@Work

During my Ph.D. career in Materials Science at RPI from 2014 to 2018, the Center for Materials, Devices, and Integrated Systems (cMDIS) has been hugely helpful to me for both understanding and hands-on experience of the state-of-the-art semiconductor production fabs. I have learned multiple techniques including cleanroom practice, microscopy, and photolithography. These helped me a lot later for a quick start of my career at Micron Technology. 

Yiping Wang, Senior Engineer, Micron Technology
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