During a visit from officials and members from the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Security Technology Accelerator (NSTXL) hosted by the NEXUS Center, the Healey-Driscoll administration recently announced $9.2 million in new technology and workforce development grants aimed at spurring the microelectronics and semiconductor industry across the Northeast Region, including at MITRE in Bedford.
The new awards are the first investments made by the Northeast Microelectronics Coalition (NEMC) Hub, the division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative that is overseeing investments made by the federal CHIPS and Science Act following the formal establishment of the Hub in September 2023.
The largest of the new grants will provide $7.7 million in funding to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that will support a project with global semiconductor and display equipment manufacturer Applied Materials to establish new advanced nano-fabrication capabilities within the MIT.Nano research hub.
The announcement also spotlighted four new awards totaling approximately $1.5 million that will boost education and workforce development programs in the region, helping companies and research labs to develop trained workers that can help domestic companies power the reshoring of microelectronics fabrication and hardware development.
“Today’s grants are an important milestone for our state, the northeast region, and the nation as a whole,” said Governor Maura Healey. “The investment in this R&D infrastructure will open doors to students, innovators, and entrepreneurs across the region, helping take new discoveries from the drawing board and into the real world. These grants will also open doors to the workforce of the future, providing students and our Veterans a pathway to high-paying, critically important jobs that exist in this sector. This is exactly why Massachusetts competed so hard to win the Northeast Microelectronics Coalition Hub.”
The four workforce programs will aim to expand engagement to students across the northeast region, including direct outreach to underrepresented groups and key audiences such as veterans, and driving new workers for U.S.-based microelectronics companies:
- MITRE, Bedford – An award of $750,000 to expand the Embedded Capture-the-Flag (eCTF) competition, which aims to attract students and develop their skills in secure microelectronics. The program leverages gamification to bridge the educational gap in embedded systems security and microelectronics, to prepare students to work in this critical field. The eCTF program is designed as a hands-on, project-based learning experience that caters to participants of various skill levels. The program will be aimed at high school, community college, undergraduate, and graduate students, with a focus on underrepresented groups within the industry.
- Headlamp, Boston – An award of $250,000 to a ‘Veteran transition accelerator’ that will support the Headlamp SkillBridge Fellowships program, which will provide a structured pathway to provide. The program will support 25 veterans with education and fellowships, helping drive net migration into the northeast region’s workforce.
- MIT, Cambridge – An award of $75,000 to expand the existing Northeast Microelectronics Summer Internship Program (NMIP) that provides more first- and second-year undergraduate students with internships at microelectronics companies in the northeast.
- Makers of a Better Future – An award of $400,000 will be leveraged to expand the existing 10-hour awareness curriculum developed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at the MassTech Collaborative. The funding will help scale the program to reach more high schools across the northeast region, expanding from the current curriculum, which is currently deployed in 50 Massachusetts high schools reaching 1,500 students.
“As our nation works to address critical STEM workforce shortages and grow tech talent, MITRE is proud to be part of the solution,” said Laurie Giandomenico, Ph.D., senior vice president and chief acceleration officer, MITRE. “The United States is making historic investments to secure global leadership in microelectronics and semiconductors, and scalable programs like MITRE’s Embedded Capture the Flag competition can help attract and train a diverse workforce essential to the development of secure microelectronics systems and supply chains. Participating students develop practical skills for securing critical embedded systems, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, smart grids, and medical devices, while gaining exposure to an ecosystem of hardware design and security career opportunities alongside potential employers.”