The RPI-HVCC Semiconductor Scholar Program readies students for the chips industry
February 5, 2024
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Hudson Valley Community College have welcomed the inaugural class of RPI-HVCC Semiconductor Scholars. Funded by the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, the Scholars program is one of many efforts in the Capital Region and around the country to prepare more students to enter the semiconductor industry.
The initial cohort of scholars has six first-year students in the Engineering Science AAS degree at HVCC who will explore future careers in the semiconductor industry while working with RPI faculty mentors in RPI’s state-of-the-art labs and facilities. The program provides scholars with financial merit awards for their first two years at HVCC and a summer research internship at RPI. If accepted to RPI, scholars will receive significant financial aid to complete a bachelor’s or combined bachelor’s and master’s degree.
According to a 2022 report from Deloitte, the global semiconductor industry is expected to surpass one trillion dollars in revenue by 2030. However, the industry faces a big talent shortage, with more than one million additional skilled workers needed over the next six years.
With the RPI-HVCC Semiconductor Scholars Program, RPI and HVCC are working to meet these projected workforce demands by establishing a talent pipeline that will recruit and prepare students from across New York and the country.
“HVCC’s Engineering Science and Technology programs attract talented and diverse students from upstate New York who are passionate about technology and its impact on the society,” said Shekhar Garde, Ph.D., dean of RPI’s School of Engineering. “The Scholars program attracts and cultivates talent for the growing semiconductor industry in our region. Importantly, the program also serves as a model that can be scaled up across the country by tapping into talent from community colleges.”
“We are thrilled to partner with RPI to offer this unique opportunity to our Engineering Science students,” said Roger Ramsammy, Ph.D., president of Hudson Valley Community College. “We have more than 500 students now enrolled in degree and certificate programs leading to employment in the semiconductor industry, and it is our goal to support them in every way possible as they gain essential skills and experience leading to careers. The Semiconductor Scholar Program is a creative partnership that combines the faculty expertise and resources at Hudson Valley with additional financial support and experience at RPI and in the field that will help to fill the talent pipeline in our region and beyond.”
“HVCC’s School of STEM is proud to have a long-standing collaboration with RPI that includes a formal articulation agreement with a direct pathway for our Engineering Science students to complete their four-year degrees and beyond at RPI. The RPI-HVCC Semiconductor Scholar program provides our students with exposure early in their careers to the growing and exciting field of semiconductors,” said Hector Rodriguez, Ph.D., School of STEM dean at HVCC.
“This collaboration illustrates RPI’s and HVCC’s shared commitment to growing the semiconductor workforce in the Capital Region,” said Martin A. Schmidt ’81, Ph.D., president of RPI. “This program’s unique strength is that it goes beyond creating a degree pathway and invests in students through mentorship and immersive experiences. Students will be able to see themselves working in the semiconductor industry, and that can make such a difference in their career path.”
During a recent visit to the RPI campus, the six scholars — Minh Ho, Katie Ziegler, Andrew Lee, Aiden Fedorowicz, Lucas Cook, and Hunter Weber — toured the Micro and Nanofabrication Cleanroom, a 6,000-square-foot Class 100 space, where university, government, and industry researchers create and test new chips, and where the scholars will get hands-on experience during their summer research internship at RPI.
Following the tour, the six scholars attended a reception where they networked with RPI and HVCC engineering faculty and leaders. During the reception, each scholar shared his or her career aspirations and interest in semiconductors.
- Minh Ho, who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam eight years ago, knew he wanted to be an engineer while helping his father fix cars. He hopes to apply what he learns about semiconductors to a job in the automotive industry, which depends more and more on chips as electric and autonomous vehicles become more common.
- Katie Ziegler is considering going into the biomedical field. She wants to know more about semiconductors because of their applications in medical diagnosis and treatments.
- Andrew Lee hopes to specialize in industrial engineering and work on supply chain issues. The semiconductor industry has a great need for supply chain management, Lee said, so he is interested in learning more about the complex processes that go into making chips.
- Aiden Fedorowicz hasn’t yet picked a career path, though he is considering either mechanical or electrical engineering as a focus. Right now, he’s most excited to learn more about semiconductors and engage with RPI faculty.
- Lucas Cook knew from an early age that he wanted to be an engineer, but it was a high school entrepreneurship and product development program that first got him interested in semiconductors. He sees semiconductors as an important link between all engineering fields.
- Hunter Weber hopes to become an electrical and computer engineer, so semiconductors are a natural fit.
As a result of the program, students are expected to see a variety of outcomes, including enhanced job opportunities in upstate New York’s semiconductor manufacturing industry and the growing microelectronics sector in the United States, unique opportunities to build higher level skills, and new ways to contribute to national security and prosperity by helping to build future chips in the United States, and especially in the upstate New York region.
Prospective semiconductor scholars can learn more about the program and apply online.