America has fallen behind in semiconductors. Now is the time to win

The COVID-19 pandemic has both revealed and confirmed vulnerabilities in established U.S. systems, practices, and institutions — things we knew before and things we didn’t. Public health care, education, transportation and the global supply chain are just a few of the most prominent examples.

Our challenge today is to close the gaps and develop more resilient systems. Our mission to do this work is a shared responsibility.

One obvious area – and one in which the solution is feasible – is the shortage of microchips it’s impacted the supply of everything from automobiles and appliances to the digital devices that keep us connected, informed and productive in our work.

The pandemic has heightened our awareness as consumers, but it has only made more apparent what was already true – the United States has a semiconductor manufacturing capacity deficit.

America has fallen behind on semiconductors

It’s not something that happened to us. It is a consequence of our action and our inaction.

In the late 1940s and into the 1950s, America was the world leader in semiconductor manufacturing. today only 12% semiconductors are made in America; 80% are made in Asia. And none of the most advanced semiconductors are made on American soil.

The answer requires a national approach to rebuilding the semiconductor and microchip manufacturing industry in the United States.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree that strong investments in semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing are essential to regaining American leadership in semiconductors. In fact, the US Senate and the US House of Representatives each have advanced a $52 billion spending program to boost the R&D, manufacturing and workforce that underpins the US semiconductor industry.

It is imperative that Congress move quickly to send a final negotiated bill to the President for his signature.

This is a giant opportunity for Arizona

Not only is this a critical agenda item for the country, but it also represents a tremendous economic opportunity for Arizona. Once these investment dollars are allocated, factories will be built, new businesses will spring up, workers will be needed, and well-paying jobs will be created.

The competition to be entered into will be as intense domestically as the global competition to become the global industry leader.

We must reassert American technological dominance – and we must aim for nothing less than that. Dominance. It means getting all things done to maximize American competitiveness. It means beating China, and it also means vigorously competing with companies around the world, especially in Asia and Europe.

Arizona has long been home to high-tech industry, focused on manufacturing electronics and aerospace products. These high-tech activities were key drivers of Arizona’s economy after World War II and continued well into the 1980s.

Even though American manufacturing has declined, Arizona has kept a foothold, and in 2022 there is new momentum. Today, California-headquartered Intel is a global leader in technology innovation and is the expansion of its local facilities with an investment of 20 billion dollars.

TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.), the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, is investing $12 billion in a new chip manufacturing plant in North Phoenix and bringing suppliers there. NXP Semiconductors has chosen to implement its new Gallium Nitride Plant in Chandler, now home to the most advanced factory producing 5G cellular communication amplifiers in the United States.

ASU is ready to make it happen. Are the others?

It doesn’t mean we’ve won the race – it means we’re in the race. The work has only just begun.

The state is well positioned to reap the benefits of the United States’ renewed focus on the semiconductor industry, and Arizona State University stands ready to exert the full force of its resources, including the greatest engineering school in the country, to help make things happen. ASU is already Intel’s largest employee provider.

Fueled by unprecedented federal investments, the university can do much more to make Arizona the global semiconductor hub. Last fall, ASU added to its Fulton Schools of Engineering, opening a new School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks.

At ASU’s research park, the university established Macro technology worksa world-class fab that advances research and development and is an asset to innovative companies in the microelectronics industry.

ASU not only brings the talent pool that a growing industry will need, but it also provides the resources of one of the nation’s top research universities. ASU Rankings sixth for total research spending by institutions without medical schools, exceeding $673 million in 2020 on utilization-inspired research. ASU also excels in working with startups and entrepreneurs, a top 10 university in patents issued and classified fourth of startups launched.

The university, serving the people of Arizona, is ready to do its part.

Arizona’s elected officials, our economic development organizations, our business and education leaders, and engaged citizens across the state must advocate for Congress to act quickly to fund the semiconductor manufacturing renaissance. in the USA.

Returning to a globally dominant position in the advancement of technology is a call to the competitor in all of us.

It’s time to win. Let’s work together and make it happen.

Michael Crow is president of Arizona State University. On Twitter: @michaelcrow.

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