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The Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Florida Semiconductor Institute hosted an event on Friday, Nov. 17, bringing together thought leaders from academia and industry, to brainstorm and prepare for Florida’s future as a leading semiconductor hub in the nation. Billed as the Statewide Semiconductor Initiative, the event featured updates from state and university leaders, panel discussions with industry leaders, and a workshop session designed to clarify and define the workforce needs of industry in the semiconductor space.

Chair of the UF Board of Trustees Mori Hosseini

Attendees were thrilled at the attendance of University of Florida President Ben Sasse, who spoke inspirationally and aspiration ally about the future of the university and the need for efforts and investment in semiconductors and the technology they enable.

University of Florida Board of Trustees Chair Mori Hosseini who delivered welcoming remarks as well as contextualizing UF’s efforts in the semiconductor space with overall economic trends in Florida.

Dr. Mark Tehranipoor Moderates the Executive Panel

ECE Florida Professor and Chair Mark Tehranipoor convened an illustrious group of leaders from Florida industry in a panel discussion to explore trends and challenges in Florida’s economy. The panel included leaders from companies with a significant Florida footprint—SkyWater, Renesas, Jabil, and L3Harris.

Florida Secretary of Commerce J. Alex Kelly spoke at length about Florida’s economy and the importance of investment in the semiconductor manufacturing area. As Florida ranks fifth nationally in terms of semiconductor manufacturing jobs,

Florida Secretary of Commerce J. Alex Kelly

Kelly noted that with the support of the CHIPS act, Florida was poised to become a major force in the space. And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis agrees. Secretary Kelly announced for the first time, ahead of any official announcement, that the upcoming Florida budget will add to previous commitments in semiconductors via workforce stimulus totaling about $78M this fall. Attendees audibly gasped at the announcement and burst into spontaneous applause.

FSI Director Volker Sorger

FSI Director Volker Sorger led a roundtable discussion focused on how to maximize and facilitate partnerships between academia, industry, and government. Featuring Interim Dean of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering Forrest Masters, as well as leaders from FloridaCommerce, BRIDG, and FloridaMakes, Dr. Sorger presided over a lively and fruitful discussion.

The final session of the day was an interactive session aimed at clearly defining the workforce needs of companies engaged in semiconductor manufacturing. Led by Karin Hoffman, founder and CEO of Key Innovative Solutions, attendees were asked to participate in an exercise wherein they had to imagine the dream skills possessed by their hires at the high school, two-year degree, and undergraduate degree levels. This practical, boots-on-the-ground approach yielded a wealth of data which will be collated and analyzed as FSI and state partners plan and tune curricula which will support the education of Florida’s future semiconductor workforce.

Special thanks to Dr. Mark Tehranipoor, Dr. David Arnold, the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, and the FSI support team for making this event a success.