Edwin L. Aguirre
America’s semiconductor industry — which involves the design and manufacturing of integrated circuits found in everyday electrical and electronic devices — is one of the country’s top export industries and a leading indicator of the U.S. economy.
According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, semiconductor innovations form the foundation for America’s $1.1 trillion dollar technology industry, affecting a U.S. workforce of nearly 6 million.
UMass Lowell’s Distributed Semiconductor Instructional Processing Laboratory (DSIPL) has been providing both undergraduate and graduate students with hands-on training in semiconductor design and fabrication, including photolithography, ellipsometry, mask alignment, etching, oxidation, diffusion and metallization, as well as testing, validation and characterization.
Prof. Kanti Prasad of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering was instrumental in establishing the DSIPL at the University in 1987. He accomplished this in collaboration with Tufts University, Merrimack College and the Massachusetts Microelectronics Center (MMC). The laboratory is used primarily by students from the consortium’s electrical engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry and chemical engineering departments.
Prasad was also responsible for developing a comprehensive program on Microelectronics/VLSI (Very Large Scale Integrated Circuits) Technology within UMass Lowell’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, covering such subjects as fundamentals, materials, devices, circuits and systems.
“This educational model has enabled us to place the University’s graduates at the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing industries not only in the region, but nationally as well, due to their unique, hands-on experience in VLSI design,” he says. “We are preparing them to join the workforce and meet the challenges of the high-tech industry.”
In June, six undergraduate students and one faculty member from the Shri Ramdeobaba College of Engineering & Management in Nagpur, India, underwent intense certificate training in advanced VLSI design under Prasad at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center (ICC). The two-week program was part of the recently forged collaboration between the college and UMass Lowell.
“The training program was a great success,” says V.S. Deshpande, Ph.D., principal of Shri Ramdeobaba College. “The participants admired and appreciated the UMass Lowell team, particularly Dr. Kanti and his associates. Our college is excited and looking forward to a mutually beneficial long-term relationship with UMass Lowell.”
A Grand Celebration
DSIPL is celebrating its 25th founding anniversary this year. To celebrate the milestone, a get-together was held on Nov. 29 at the ICC, during which Prasad thanked the industry partners who have provided long-standing and continued financial support for the students’ research projects, especially after the MMC pulled out of the consortium in 1991.
Executive Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney and Engineering Interim Dean Jack Wilson presented plaques of appreciation to George LeVan, Andy Hunt and Dylan Bartle of Skyworks Solutions and to Robert Meisenhelder, Robert O’Reilly and Michael Walsh of Analog Devices.
“It is the contribution and perpetual support of these companies, and the vision of these individuals, that has kept DSIPL and the microelectronics activities at UMass Lowell so vibrant,” said Prasad.
Moloney and Wilson congratulated Prasad on behalf of the University and Chancellor Marty Meehan for his dedication and service.