Microelectronic Engineering (MicroE) is the synergistic combination of electric engineering, photographic/imaging sciences, and materials science to produce the solid state devices that define our modern world. Whether it is the next generation computer chip with some dimensions in the 10-20 nanometer range, new memory/storage devices, a better light-emitting diode (LED) for energy efficient solid state lighting, a higher efficiency, more economically competitive solar cell for sustainable energy, a better resolution imaging/camera chip, or a miniature pump on an implantable chip to regulate insulin in the body, MicroE makes it a reality.
Because of its rapidly evolving, multidisciplinary nature, the MicroE Program at RIT has an Outreach initiative to communicate these developments to its constituency comprised of K-12 students and teachers, community college students and faculty, and workers in industry. The Outreach takes the form of both off- and on-campus programs. Examples of recent activities follow.
Western New York is home to high tech industry. One example is the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster (RRPC - http://www.rrpc-ny.org/ ), and another is in the semiconductor area, where the New York Loves Nano (http://www.ceg.org/events/semicon-west/ ) economic development initiative is bringing companies to New York. Of paramount importance in attracting these hi-tech companies is the existence of an educated workforce. MicroE led an RIT collaborative effort involving programs in the College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) and Kate Gleason College of Engineering (KGCOE) is delivering a pilot program in workforce training. Details on this 10 week, 350 hour program may be found through the RIT News and Events Archives. ( http://www.rit.edu/news/story.php?id=48669 ) In addition to these unique training programs for workers, MicroE is active in building the K-12 pipeline. Through NYS Dept. of Education grants, MicroE has provided summer workshops in both 2014 and 2015 connecting local high schools to WNY industries in the areas of microelectronics, photonics, bio-medicine and food processing. Local TV coverage of these workshops may be found at the following sites.
The MicroE Program has a 30+ year history of enhancing the skill set of the employed engineer. Many semiconductor companies recruit employees from all engineering disciplines to produce the integrated circuit. Unfortunately, very few have knowledge of the entire process. Through the MicroE Program at RIT, these people have the opportunity to acquire that knowledge of process integration through a unique one-week shortcourse comprised of both lecture and lab. The students learn the fundamentals and design a device on Monday, they then spend Tues. through Thurs. fabricating their design, and they finish on Friday by testing their device. Details on the course are on the MicroE website ( http://www.rit.edu/kgcoe/eme/icprocessing ) and the testimonials from attendees are available through a short video from our local news station.
Teach the Teacher
Attracting K-12 students to the STEM disciplines is a national priority. However, unless you have an excellent program and the resources to deliver it on a routine basis, it is very hard to know if you are substantially impacting student awareness and their decision making process. On the other hand, if you can impact the teachers of these students, those teachers may have a better chance of influencing that student over the course of their year(s) together. For this reason, MicroE at RIT offers a two day workshop for K-12 teachers to help them connect their STEM classes to the Advanced Manufacturing of Electronics, and the careers of today. Over 120 teachers from throughout New York State have attended this event. A brochure on the program is available.
Dr. Michael A. Jackson, Outreach Director