Project Summary: “SCME – ATE Center of Excellence”
The University of New Mexico (UNM), in partnership with Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Northeast region (Ivy Tech-Northeast), North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS), Washington Engineering Institute (WEI), the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), the Albuquerque Public School (APS) system, the ASK Academy (ASK), and the University of South Florida (USF) coupled with the Florida Advanced Technological Education (FL-ATE) regional center, propose to step-up the NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) from a regional center to a National ATE Center. The disciplinary focus of the center is technician education for the Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS, or Microsystems for short) industry. The national center will increase the educational and STEM capacity of the nation to produce technicians skilled in supporting microsystems research, design, and commercialization, while increasing awareness of microsystems career opportunities within diverse student populations. The center will provide cleanroom-based professional development workshops for high school, community college and four-year college faculty, generate educational materials, assist transfer of SCME MEMS-based short courses to other venues, and produce and disseminate hands-on kits that will bring elements of the cleanroom fabrication experience into the classroom. The cleanroom workshops will be hosted by extant cleanrooms at UNM, NDSCS and USF. SCME will continue its collaboration with other ATE Centers by supporting the annual MNT conference started in Albuquerque, 2011 (NACK, Nano-Link, NEATEC, and MATEC were key participants), the HI TEC conference and working with Bio-Link on advancing the development and promulgation of BioMEMS related learning modules.
MEMS chips are found in a wide range of biotechnology, transportation, homeland security, and consumer product applications. Common examples include crash bag sensor systems, inkjet print heads, DLP televisions and projection systems, and microphones and motion sensors found in smart phones, remote controls, biometrics, and game controllers [Lightman, 2011]. The microfluidic sector alone is expected to grow from $1.5B in 2010 to $4.5B by 2015 [Cao, 2011]. The total MEMS device market for 2011 is projected at $10B and is expected to grow to $19.5B by 2016, at 14% compounded annual growth rate, (CAGR) [Doe, 2011, Eloy, 2011]; MEMS typically contain an integrated set of otherwise disparate technologies (e.g., mechanics, fluidics, materials, energy, photonics, biology, etc.) that span the entire spectrum of STEM components. Moreover, MEMS is one of the last bastions of hands-on learning, as colleges and universities move to replace physical labs with computer stations and simulators. The challenge is to engage and develop an agile, well-educated workforce to support this business growth and range of needed skills.
Through a faculty development strategy that includes one-day, two-day, and week- long workshops, and the development and dissemination of hands-on kits to conventional classrooms, SCME has invested time and resources into training faculty who adapt and integrate MEMS education into the classes that they teach. As a national center, SCME and its partners will host even more workshops, for over 300 faculty per year not including webinars and conference presentations, and provide STEM-focused classroom resources for these faculty to teach microsystems applications, fabrication and device integration to at least 15000 students annually for a total of 75,000 student hours of instruction annually. UNM, CNM, SIPI and APS serve student bodies with high Hispanic and/or Native American enrollments. SIPI will be a conduit that reaches out to tribal colleges, to draw these students to Albuquerque for microsystems laboratory experience at the UNM cleanroom. The SCME nationwide network of strategically located community colleges that have an expressed interest in microsystems will work with their regional micro/nano companies. And, SCME will reach out to secondary schools, as part of its MEMS awareness mission, by engaging secondary educators as MEMS cleanroom trainees, educational materials developers, and classroom adopters exposing the student to microsystems applications, career pathways and how STEM concepts are applied in the real world of high technology manufacturing. SCME, as a national center, will provide a system to ensure that the U.S. microsystems industry is provided a highly skilled and educated workforce.