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Indiana University Invests $111M in Dual-Use Technology Plan

As part of the federal CHIPS and Science Act as well as Indiana University's strategic plan, the university is partnering with the U.S. Department of Defense to build up high-tech training programs and industries.

Indiana University logo in limestone
Courtesy of Indiana University
Indiana University (IU) will add facilities, faculty and degree programs while bolstering the semiconductor and national defense industries to the tune of $111 million, school officials announced this week.

This dual-use technology initiative is in collaboration with the Indiana-based U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division, according to a news release this week. It’s expected to support local companies involved with nanotechnology, microelectronics, cybersecurity, machine learning and artificial intelligence innovations.

“The significant investments we’re making in academic and research programs, new faculty appointments, state-of-the-art facilities and future-focused collaboration with industry will strengthen IU’s national leadership, further develop Indiana’s microelectronics sector and drive our state’s current and future economic competitiveness,” IU President Pamela Whitten said in a prepared statement. “They also reflect a shared mission between IU and NSWC Crane to drive deeper strategic collaboration and build the innovative technologies and capabilities critical to our nation’s security and prosperity.”

According to the news release, these projects are aligned with the university's new strategic plan that outlines goals to be completed by 2030:

  • IU will spend $23.5 million to recruit 25 new faculty members with U.S. Department of Defense experience to teach courses in cybersecurity, microelectronics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and nanotechnology.
  • Startup costs totaling $53.5 million will be spent on building or enhancing laboratories and other facilities that will be dedicated to national defense applications, with longer-term goals of establishing research partnerships, expanding federal grants and contracts, and creating additional collaboration opportunities between IU and NSWC Crane.
  • A $10 million Center for Reliable and Trusted Electronics (IU CREATE) will research radiation-hardened technologies. University officials say this would be an expansion of an existing initiative funded by NSWC Crane and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation that focuses on researching microelectronic functions in extreme environments.
  • Adding new degree programs in nanofabrication and microelectronics will cost $13.5 million.
  • IU commits $5 million over five years to support faculty research projects in biotechnology and synthetic biology.

Beyond Indiana University and NSWC Crane, these investments are expected to spur growth at other universities and the nearby WestGate@Crane Technology Park, which recently announced a new microelectronics campus that is expected to attract at least four semiconductor companies and create up to 549 jobs, according to the news release.

Russell Mumper, IU vice president for research, said this initiative puts his university at the forefront of “critical industries of today and tomorrow.”

“We will continue to harness the power of IU’s vast research enterprise to support this growing partnership, with a special emphasis on industries and companies important to Crane, including those developing dual-use technologies,” Mumper said in a public statement.

IU President Whitten is also co-leader of the EDGE Consortium, which works to include women and minorities in the ever-growing semiconductor workforce. EDGE will hold an Oct. 24 summit in Washington, D.C., according to the news release.

Under the $280 billion federal Chips and Science Act aimed at boosting domestic production of semiconductors, Indiana University is among 130 partners in the newly created Silicone Crossroads Microelectronics Commons Hub led by the Applied Research Institute in Indiana for which the U.S. Department of Defense has awarded $32.9 million, according to a news release issued by the DOD in September.

David Rosenberg, Indiana secretary of commerce, said IU’s investment serves the state's economic development goals.

“As we compete on the global stage to attract companies with a focus on microelectronics and nanotechnology, it’s important that this business growth is bolstered by the state’s research and educational institutions," Rosenberg said in a public statement. "Indiana University’s investment will have an impact on so many critical areas: population growth, growing an economy of the future and national security.”