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Michigan Commits $10M to Train Semiconductor Workforce

Both the University of Michigan and Washtenaw Community College will be involved in training and retraining workers at the MSTAR center for semiconductor chip manufacturing.

Female soldering a computer motherboard, microchips, semiconductors
(TNS) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Michigan is putting $10 million into the state's initiative with private industry and educational institutions to develop a pipeline of skilled students and workers to advance semiconductor technology for the auto industry.

Whitmer announced the investment Wednesday after meeting at the White House with Lael Brainard, director of the National Economic Council, the governor's office said.

The announcement comes a year after the state signed a memorandum of understanding to form a public-private partnership with the semiconductor company KLA, the University of Michigan, Washtenaw Community College, General Motors Co. and imec, a technology innovation hub based in Belgium.

The initiative, the Michigan Semiconductor Talent and Technology for Automotive Research or MSTAR, is rolling out a portfolio of innovation projects as it intends to pursue federal funding, according to Whitmer's office.

"A year ago, we launched MSTAR to show the world that Michigan was serious about advanced manufacturing and talent development. Now, we’re putting $10 million behind it with our industry partners to keep winning advanced mobility and semiconductor projects," Whitmer said in a statement.

"Together, we will keep working to bring advanced manufacturing and critical supply chains home, creating economic opportunity in every region of Michigan."

The $10 million is being funded by an appropriation the Michigan Legislature approved last fall, Whitmer's office said.

Whitmer is on a two-day trip to Washington to pitch Michigan for additional investment in economic and workforce development, innovation and "cross-border cooperation," her office said this week.

MSTAR is pursuing funding under the federal Chips and Science Act, which passed with bipartisan support in 2022, and pumps $200 billion into scientific research. Funding opportunities include basic and applied semiconductor research, domestic manufacturing and workforce education and training.

The Chips Act aims to boost U.S. competitiveness in technology and avoid further supply chain disruptions after the pandemic upended the global chip supply chain, causing inventory backlogs and temporary plant closures in the auto industry.

The goals of the MSTAR effort are to develop the "talent base" and infrastructure to hasten the development of advanced semiconductor application for electrification and autonomous vehicles, to support the development of the U.S. semiconductor industry and EV research, and to train a workforce for these jobs.

In addition to training and "retraining" programs, the MSTAR center will provide space for collaborations, laboratories, training facilities and incubator funding for related start-up companies, according to Whitmer's office.

Both UM and WCC would be involved through the center training the workforce Michigan needs for semiconductor chip manufacturing.

"We are thrilled to begin joint research with the University of Michigan, on their Ann Arbor campus, and grateful for the state’s support for the MSTAR initiative and Governor Whitmer’s leadership," said Luc Van den hove, president and CEO of imec, in a statement.

"By combining the strengths of our research organizations, we can accelerate technological innovations for the automotive industry, making vehicles safer and more sustainable.”    

©2024 The Detroit News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.