Employment projections for the microelectronics manufacturers that have already committed to growth in Virginia indicate that over 3,000 additional highly skilled workers will be needed by 2002, growing to 10,000 over the next 10 to 20 years. To help answer the workforce needs of the burgeoning microelectronics industry in the Commonwealth, a Microfabrication Laboratory is being proposed to be a key component of the Center. The laboratory will be equipped with a clean-room facility for the fabrication of microelectronic devices, sensors, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).
The facility will be a part of the existing JMU Center for Materials Science. The facility will serve teaching and research programs at JMU, training programs in regional community colleges and special professional development programs for high school teachers and technicians. The laboratory would also be used for student projects and for investigation of specific problems of interest to industry in the Commonwealth. The laboratory will house existing processing equipment and additional equipment received through grants and donations.
Such a facility would include a clean-room and sufficient process equipment for fabrication of simple microelectronic and micro-mechanical devices (diodes, transistors, solar cells, light emitting diodes (LEDs), and MEMS sensors and actuators). Since much manufacturing is conducted in specially controlled clean environments, it is valuable to provide training facilities that include such environments, as well as training programs on proper procedures for working in a clean-room. The cleanliness need not be as carefully controlled as in the most demanding manufacturing conditions (class 10, class 1, or better). A class 10,000 clean-room will provide the necessary training, but at a substantially reduced cost.
The partnership of JMU with community colleges in the Shenandoah Valley and environs ( Blue Ridge Community College, Piedmont Community College, Dabney Lancaster Community College) can help provide a trained workforce for microelectronics and related industries. Faculty expertise and meaningful hands-on laboratory experiences pertinent to this industry would be costly to duplicate at several community colleges. However, a central laboratory facility at JMU can be made accessible to interested students and faculty throughout the region.
Last update: May 19, 1999.