By SkyWater Florida Human Resources Director Ben Larry
Semiconductors are essential ingredients of modern life. Life-saving medical devices, automotive safety enhancements, consumer electronics and American national security require semiconductors. For the U.S. semiconductor industry to thrive, we need talent — approximately 250,000 workers (including 50,000 engineers) in the next five years. That’s a huge gap. As a fast-growing domestic foundry, our commitment to workforce development and finding creative ways to develop skills and talent in our local communities is essential to doing the world-changing work we hope to achieve.
Join us as we talk with Ben Larry about helping people find a place on our team — the workforce of the future.
Find your place on our team as an embedded engineer
Public-private resource bonds with SkyWater
A SkyWater government customer has partnered to bring a recent mechanical engineering graduate onsite at SkyWater Florida for six months through an Embedded Rotational Program. Working on a metrology tool and documenting the many different steps in the hybrid bonding process, she created one complete process flow. Her work will help immensely in standing up our hybrid wafer bonding technology and defining the technology transfer process. For the recent graduate, who had no tool experience, the value of gaining hands-on fab experience is priceless to becoming a well-rounded engineer.
As a part of her rotation at SkyWater, the embedded engineer created a database that keeps track of where lots are located, upcoming steps, and the data and recipes used. This cooperative effort increases learning exponentially and plants the seeds needed to bring a new technology to market. “Hybrid bonding technology is one of three technology pillars we are diligently maturing at SkyWater Florida,” explains Larry.
Getting in SHIP shape
The State-of-the-Art Heterogenous Integrated Packaging (under the Department of Defense’s Trusted & Assured Microelectronics Program) develops sustainable models for DOD access to State of The Art, or SOTA, packaging leveraging commercial fabrication lines, such as SkyWater. Sharing what she learned and developed during her SkyWater rotation, the embedded engineer presented a technical roundtable to the SHIP team in June.
Experience professional work in a fab with an internship or co-op
SkyWater internships and co-ops offer an experiential education — with a chance step into the realm of professional work in a semiconductor fab in Florida. “There has not been a fab in Central Florida for 15 years, so many residents don’t know who we are or what we do,” states Larry. “That’s one reason we bring business and community leaders, and college/university staff and students onsite to tour the campus. We also attend college/university events. Professors and students tell us that they would prefer to stay in Florida to work in the semiconductor industry. So, we make sure they know we are here!”
SkyWater Florida will have five new college/university interns this year
Two students will attend from Purdue University, one grad student from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and two students from the University of Florida. These students began networking and building relationships before beginning their internship. They chose housing together for the summer and decided to live in a local Air BnB — which is fantastic!” said Larry.
Valencia Technical College, the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of Florida are important workforce development partners for SkyWater in Florida
“Valencia Technical College provides training and certification programs to students in mechatronics and robotics,” explains Larry. “We hired two Valencia graduates — Anita Scott and Cory Orr. These two graduates were well-prepared for careers in the semiconductor industry. Anita is returning to Valencia for robotics certification, which SkyWater’s Educational Assistance program will support.”
SkyWater is building a $1.8 billion fab in Indiana — partnering with Purdue University to educate students and then hire them locally
Purdue’s new interdisciplinary Semiconductor Degrees Program teaches undergraduate and graduate students the essential skills for the semiconductor industry such as integrated circuits and chip design. It also teaches crucial chip-manufacturing steps, chemicals, tools, materials, packaging, manufacturing and supply-chain management. SkyWater representatives present career options in the program’s introductory seminar course. Advanced courses cover semiconductor materials and devices, as well as system-on-chip design.
The program builds on Purdue’s SCALE program, which trains undergrads to design and build semiconductors for space. This year, Purdue will launch a new program which will educate workers for SkyWater. Supported by state and regional economic-development organizations, the program will include operator and technician training through associate degree courses at partner Ivy Tech Community College.
An internship at SkyWater’s Florida foundry confirmed Purdue undergraduate Anika Bhoopalam’s interest in the semiconductor industry.
Bhoopalam, a senior majoring in chemical engineering with a minor in electrical and computer engineering, feels that the physics, materials science, and engineering courses she has taken — combined with research lab experience fabricating thin films and solar cells — have prepared her well. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. with a focus on materials science and solid-state physics so she can continue working in chip manufacturing.
Start exploring SkyWater semiconductor careers in high school
Just across the street from the SkyWater Florida facility is NeoCity Academy, a STEM high school. SkyWater regularly partners with the school on learning projects and internships. Larry recalls, “In 2022, we hired four students for summer internships. Based on their excellent performance, these students earned three-hour-per-day co-op positions during the following school year. In 2023, we have five NeoCity Academy student interns with us. Our goal is to give students a meaningful experience and hopefully they will choose a semiconductor career with us after graduation.”
Prepare for your career with a SkyWater Foundation scholarship
$100,000 awarded through the SkyWater Foundation Scholarship Program.
Apply next year— opening February 2024
Ten recipients have been selected by Scholarship America to receive up to $10,000 each through the launch of the SkyWater Foundation’s Annual Scholarship Program. The scholarship application was open to students in any major or field of study. Applicants pursuing a certificate or degree in STEM — or science, technology, engineering, mathematics — were especially encouraged to apply. Scholarship America received nearly 1200 applications for SkyWater Foundation’s scholarships within the initial 10 application days.
With $100,000 awarded, the SkyWater Foundation Scholarship Program helps students like Jason Zheng, a first-generation student currently attending Binghamton University, who is pursuing a computer science career. Zheng says that from a young age, he was curious about what went on behind the scenes of games, websites, and hardware, which led him to take apart and reassemble many projects along the way. Zheng is actively involved in many open-source online projects in addition to mentoring students who want to learn more about computer science.
Join our team as a full-time employee
In SkyWater Florida, we’re adding approximately 200 new jobs by 2024 — and we face challenges
One challenge is that there is a shortage of bachelor’s and graduate degree students who are U.S. citizens which is a requirement for employment in our fab as a Trusted supplier to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Initially in Florida, we needed to hire semiconductor industry experts to start up operations. Once tools are installed and qualified, we need to hire junior-level engineers and technicians. In addition to the employment options we mentioned, we also offer apprenticeships, employment through Semi VetWorks, and Earn While You Learn part-time student employment.