Intel-funded higher education alliances training people for 3,000 new jobs at semiconductor plants

Some training is free to students

Intel Corp. is pouring money into educational programs at Ohio universities and colleges, including some free training, to get workers ready to fill 3,000 new jobs at the company’s two semiconductor fabrication plants under construction in New Albany.

“Training a workforce of 3,000 individuals for the Intel plants, ranging from technicians to engineers and managers, represents a substantial challenge,” said Mohammadreza Hadizadeh, associate professor of physics and director of the Intel-funded alliance led by Central State University.

“However, Ohio universities are making significant strides in preparing for this through the eight Semiconductor Education and Research Program (SERP) projects funded by Intel.”

Intel also is funding kindergarten-12 science, technology, education, arts and math programs in Ohio and committed $50 million to workforce development and education in the state. The company pledged to spend another $50 million nationwide in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

The first tranche of $17.7 million Intel allocated for a three-year period in Ohio covers the eight broad SERP alliances involving more than 80 Ohio colleges and universities, including ten in the Dayton-Springfield-Butler County region, according to the company. Training began last year.

“We are standing them up now because we want to have the workforce ready to go,” said Linda Qian, communications director for the California-based company’s Ohio community relations team. “There will be plenty of jobs for the entire region.”

Interviews by this news organization with a dozen educators, business leaders and students from across the region found optimism that the collaboration between Intel and educational institutions will give people an opportunity to be ready for the new jobs and help Intel, its suppliers and other companies get access to a better trained workforce.

“One of the significant benefits of a project like Intel is that with its longer construction and funding runway, our local training providers and our colleges and universities have been able to set up programs to train Intel’s future workforce, which ultimately benefits our broader workforce,” said Stephanie Keinath, vice president of strategic initiatives at the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

“(They) are all engaged in work to build out pathways for technicians, engineers and other workers needed not only for Intel, but our future high-tech workforce.”

Credit: Intel Corporation

Credit: Intel Corporation

The $28 billion Intel plants being built on a 1,000-acre site in the New Albany International Business Park northeast of Columbus in Licking County are expected to begin production by approximately 2027.

Qian said about 70% of the 3,000 new employees will be technicians, jobs that do not require a four-year college degree, but in some cases could require a two-year degree. The pay range for technician jobs can range from $50,000 to $90,000 depending on role and experience, and include a competitive benefits package, Qian said.

About 25% of the jobs will be engineers and 5% will be support and centralized functions like human resources, finance and administration, she said.

Average pay at the Ohio plants will be $135,000, said Elly Akopyan, Intel communications and local media manager.

Intel’s higher ed funding pays for equipment and supplies; faculty training; research; curriculum development and a variety of classroom, online, hands-on and lab coursework, including semiconductor fabrication and processing, microelectronics, automation and robotics.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

“These multi-institutional collaborations involve close coordination with subject matter experts from Intel to tailor the training effectively to meet specific industry needs,” Hadizadeh said.

In addition to Central State, the local higher ed institutions involved in one or more of the eight Intel-funded programs include Cedarville University, Clark State Community College, Edison State Community College, Miami University, Sinclair Community College, the University of Dayton, Wilberforce University, Wittenberg University and Wright State University.

“Semiconductor manufacturing is a specialty but there are a lot of basic skills similar to advanced manufacturing that other industries use. So some of the benefit is these schools likely have some of the curriculum already,” Qian said. “But we want to make sure it is tailored to the semiconductor industry.”

Effort will help many companies

The Intel money is paying for brand new courses, but also bolsters existing and expanded coursework at universities and colleges. This will boost efforts to prepare a skilled workforce not only for Intel, but also for Intel suppliers, Honda and its Honda-LG Energy Solution electric vehicle battery plant under construction in Fayette County and other area companies, according to those interviewed.



One example is Sinclair’s new Integrated System Technician bachelor’s degree program, launched last fall, which aligns with the needs of Intel and other companies wanting workers trained in robotics, cybersecurity and other high-tech skills, said Tony Ponder, senior vice president and provost at Sinclair.

Mitchell Yula, 25, of Cincinnati, is attending Sinclair part time in that degree program, with the goal of moving up to an automation engineering job where he currently works, Clippard Instrument Lab in Fairfield.

“We’re learning computer science and engineering skills to work with smart technologies like robots and manufacturing equipment,” Yula said.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Some of the Intel-funded training is free or covered by scholarships or other assistance. Certain programs are open to high school students.

“Wright State is hosting the CSU-led summer internship on microelectronics design, fabrication, and security for 35 high school and undergraduate students, offering scholarships that cover all costs,” said Hadizadeh. “We especially encourage female students and underrepresented minorities to participate.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

The University of Cincinnati is holding a free summer semiconductor workshop for high schoolers, who can earn a certificate for completing the program, said Guru Subramanyam, a University of Dayton professor of electrical and computer engineering and UD’s lead on the Intel-funded Ohio-southwest Alliance on Semiconductors and Integrated Scalable-Manufacturing (OASiS).

“There’s funding out there to support students who want to enter this field,” said Ponder, listing the Intel funding, various scholarships and the state’s TechCred program which gives companies money to send their employees to college or other training programs.

Depending on the course, students can earn industry-recognized credentials, like certificates, or use the course for credits that apply toward college degrees. The goal for the non-degree coursework is to eventually develop “stackable” credentials that can be applied toward a college degree, said Subhashini Ganapathy, who is dean of Wright State’s College of Graduate Programs and Honors Studies and liaison for Intel Initiatives.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Local institutions make up more than half of the 15-member OASiS, which is led by the University of Cincinnati. Subramanyam said OASiS provides a 17-hour online semiconductor manufacturing training module and hands-on clean-room lab training. UD and Wright State are among the collaborating institutions that provide clean-room labs for students whose colleges don’t have those facilities.

The OASiS module training is entirely free to students and each institution can give a $300 stipend to 20 students annually, he said.

This school year about 300 students across the OASiS alliance were trained and soon a more advanced module will be added, Ganapathy said.

Carter Gogolek, 21, is a computer engineering major at the University of Dayton who completed the OASiS rapid certification training module this year.

“I gained a lot of new skills that I wouldn’t have learned before. I learned a lot about the semiconductor manufacturing process and how that works,” said Gogolek of Medina. “I enjoyed it, especially because I could do it on my own time.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Gogolek said he’s interested in Intel and the semiconductor industry more broadly.

“It’s just growing massively,” he said. “I think there is always room to invent something new.”

Laser focus on workforce

Many of the local higher ed institutions also are part of other regional or national collaborations focused on the need for more semiconductor and microelectronics training and research as the nation races to boost semiconductor production and other high tech manufacturing.

Supply chain issues and semiconductor shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic illustrated the need for more domestic semiconductor production, including of the most advanced chips needed for artificial intelligence (AI) applications.

“With the growth in AI there is a lot of need for chips,” Subramanyam said. “We are only scratching the surface with AI.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

In 2022 President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which allocates nearly $53 billion in federal incentives for domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research and development.

Funding for workforce development also was included in the CHIPS Act, and last year Biden announced Columbus would be the site of a new Workforce Hub. One of several hubs across the U.S. designed to prepare workers for a variety of in-demand jobs, including the semiconductor industry, the Columbus effort pairs Columbus State Community College with educational institutions, high schools, construction-trades unions, employers and other stakeholders.

A preliminary agreement between Intel and the U.S. Department of Commerce signed in March would provide Intel with up to $8.5 billion in direct CHIPS Act funding, along with access to loans and tax credits, for the company’s semiconductor manufacturing, research and development projects in Ohio, New Mexico, Arizona and Oregon.

Credit: Intel Corporation

Credit: Intel Corporation

“There’s so much investment right now because of the CHIPS Act,” Subramanyam said. “There’s going to be a lot of skilled labor that’s needed.”

Intel is confident the region and state will be able to meet the company’s workforce needs, Qian said, noting that workforce readiness was part of the equation when the company was choosing a site to build the new plants.

“Intel settled here in Ohio because of our density of schools and therefore potential workforce. They are serious about building the next generation and have made quite a commitment, not just in higher education,” said Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Cassie Barlow, president of the Strategic Council for Higher Education.

“We are working to assist in building internships, co-ops and apprenticeship programming,” Barlow said. “We are all collaborating across educational levels to get our students trained, educated and certified to get jobs.”

Workforce opportunities and challenges

The new Intel plants are expected to draw employees and suppliers from the local region. About 1,000 construction workers are already on site each day, a number the company expects will grow to 7,000, and Intel has begun hiring support staff, Qian said.

Credit: Caroline Williams

Credit: Caroline Williams

Construction workers from the local region are among those building the plant, and Keinath said the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce is working with Intel’s purchasing and contracting team to connect them with local businesses, including suppliers owned by women, minorities and veterans.

Talent attraction and retention is a top priority for the Dayton-Springfield-Butler County region and some employers have a hard time filling jobs, Keinath said.

“There has been concern expressed by local companies who are already facing workforce challenges that major projects like Intel will impact their ability to recruit and retain top talent. It underscores our overarching need as a state to have a strong focus on recruiting talent to Ohio, and keeping talent that we already have,” Keinath said.

“As a chamber, it’s why we have concentrated our workforce development efforts across the continuum, helping employers to understand and better support their employees as it relates to transportation and childcare needs, helping them build their own local workforce pipelines by becoming more deeply embedded in our K-12 education systems and other collective efforts,” Keinath said.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Those interviewed said collaboration will be key to filling Intel jobs and those at other companies across the region and state.

“It will take the entire ecosystem of K-12 and higher education, including all of Ohio’s community colleges, universities, and career technical centers, to train the numbers needed, not just for Intel, but for the tidal wave of retirements in manufacturing over the next 10 years,” said Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State College in Springfield.

“Additionally, the future of manufacturing training is upskilling with new technology, so this upskilling of workers will be an ongoing need of all manufacturers.”

Intel key technical skill requirements

Hand tool basics

Mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulics and vacuum systems


Electrical basics and electronics

Chemicals and gases

Industry knowledge

Communication skills

Problem solving

Critical thinking

Source: Intel Corp.

Dayton Daily News INVESTIGATES

The path forward: JOBS & THE ECONOMY

Our team of investigative reporters digs into what you identified as pressing issues facing our community. The Path Forward project seeks solutions to these problems by investigating how the region is preparing for the economy of the future. This series looks at how Intel Corp. is partnering with colleges and universities in the local region and across Ohio to train workers for the two new semiconductor plants being built near Columbus and the impact that will have on the region.

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See all the stories in our Intel Corp. series here:

Intel-funded higher education alliances training people for 3,000 new jobs at semiconductor plants

‘Silicon Heartland’ construction on schedule at Intel semiconductor plants that will employ 3,000

PHOTOS: See the Intel Corp. semiconductor fabrication plants in being built in New Albany, Ohio

VIDEO: See Intel’s Arizona semiconductor factories in action

5 things to know about Intel’s new Ohio plants and workforce training efforts

VIDEO: See what happens inside Intel Corp. factories in Oregon

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