As workforce shortages plague the semiconductor industry in countries around the world, collaboration is the most important factor in solving the problem. That’s why Samsung recently partnered with The University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering on a multi-million-dollar project to bolster the local chip talent pool.
A total of $3.7 million will go towards scholarship and fellowship opportunities for students as well as funding for research and lab upgrades. The partnership was announced earlier this month at UT Austin’s Semiconductor Day.
The semiconductor industry is facing a daunting challenge as it prepares for a period of growth over the next decade. While the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) projects nearly 115,000 new chip jobs by 2030, roughly 67,000 of them are expected to go unfilled. This highlights the critical shortage of trained chip workers in America. The talent gap is detrimental to the country’s ambitions of becoming a global industry superpower.
Of the positions at risk, over 27,000 are for engineers. The partnership between Samsung and UT Austin aims to address that segment of the shortage. Notably, computer scientists and technicians are also sorely needed.
Most of the funding, $2.7 million, comes from Samsung Electronics and is designated primarily for research and development. The money will be used to support student capstone projects, modernize the school’s fabrication lab, and support chip research and innovation being done on campus.
Meanwhile, Samsung Austin Semiconductor, the chip giant’s local arm, is contributing $1 million. This funding supports scholarships and fellowships for undergrad and graduate students respectively. Samsung Austin Semiconductor and UT Austin have a close relationship, with the former hiring hundreds of alumni over the years. Notably, Samsung’s Austin facility is located just 12 miles from the Cockrell School.
In a statement, UT Austin Dean Roger Bonnecaze said, “This partnership opens new doors for our student engineers working through hands-on learning experiences and invaluable workforce connections. It also supports Cockrell researchers who are spearheading semiconductor innovation.”
Samsung Austin Semiconductor President Bonyoung Koo said, “This opportunity builds upon and formalizes our collaboration and furthers a strategic plan to address the needs of the workforce.”
“Being able to pull from a skilled and large workforce is of utmost importance to us,” he adds.
Looking ahead, Samsung has also invested $17 billion in a new chip fab located in Taylor, Texas, just under 40 miles from Austin. The plant will produce 4nm chips by the end of 2024, according to statements from Samsung CEO Kyung Kye-hyun.
The fab is expected to be a key component of Samsung’s contract chipmaking strategy as it seeks to compete with TSMC. It hopes that having an advanced chip fab on U.S. soil will attract other American chip companies who want their designs produced closer to home.
When this facility opens in the near future, the need for chip workers in the central Texas area will be even larger. Thus, Samsung’s partnership with UT Austin is integral to its wider chip strategy in the U.S.
Dr. Chanhoon Park, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics and president of the Taylor project, said in a statement, “Texas has a diverse workforce and great talent. We want to continue to build upon that with this partnership.”
Moving forward, programs like this one will be key to easing the chip talent shortage—not just in the U.S., but around the world. Luckily, leading chipmakers have identified this need and are taking steps to address it. Only through collaboration and investment in the future will the global chip industry have a healthy workforce to support its growth over the coming years.