SEMI Foundation Adds Solar Module to High Tech U Program
SEMI Foundation Adds Solar Module to High Tech U Program
The SEMI Foundation reaches out to young people who are part of socio-economic groups under represented in high tech careers, including minorities and females. High Tech U opens their eyes to undreamed of career possibilities, and gives them the confidence to pursue math and science courses. Because of this focus, over the past nine years the make-up of High Tech U classes has mirrored the demographics of local communities, and in some cases has exceeded representation of under represented groups.
High Tech U channels this excitement by incorporating learning modules that introduce students to leading edge technologies.
“These modules employ two essential underlying concepts,” says Jerry Kissinger, an education consultant to the SEMI Foundation. “First, we show students that processes driving the new cutting edge technologies are the same or similar to technologies used in semiconductor manufacturing. From a career exploration point of view, students begin to see the depth and breadth of high tech careers. They begin to see that certain basic math and science building blocks can go into many different, creative careers — and that they personally can play an important role in solving some of the biggest challenges on our planet. This is very empowering.”
Case in point: solar energy
The Foundation added a solar energy/photovoltaics-focused module to SEMI High Tech U. “It’s never too early to make our students aware of the exciting possibilities created by the next big technology boom,” says SEMI Foundation vice president Lisa Anderson.
“The solar industry is poised for unprecedented growth over the next two decades, and the semiconductor manufacturing industry is uniquely positioned to play a major role in that growth,” continues Anderson. “Because of this, it is important to expand the existing High Tech U curriculum to incorporate this exciting technology and provide students with a better rounded perspective, giving them the foundation to make more informed decisions about their future educational and career goals.”
Getting the “big picture”
In the High Tech U solar module students are introduced to the “big picture” on the emerging solar energy industry and learn about the design and physics of solar cells. They see the processes that create solar cells on silicon wafers (similar to the semiconductor process); use digital instruments to measure solar voltage and record the measurements in a computer software program; and learn how solar array circuitry collects the voltage.
As part of High Tech U programs held in Silicon Valley, students have toured Applied Materials’ manufacturing facility housing some of the industry’s most advanced thin film solar manufacturing tools. And in Tolleson, Arizona, program participants toured the photovoltaic system of High Tech U sponsor Salt River Project, the nation’s third-largest public power utility.
Exploring solar’s potential for solving real life challenges around the world. In 2008 the Foundation introduced another new solar-focused module at a reunion of High Tech U graduates in San Jose. The module introduced students to ways solar technology may help solve real life problems, like using solar to sterilize drinking water in The Republic of Vanuatu, replacing wood burning In Rawandan Villages, and developing XO laptop for persons displaced in emergencies like Katrina. The reunion was hosted by Mission College, and sponsored by Intel with additional support from Air Products Foundation, Applied Materials, and Lam Research Corporation.
According to Michael Lesiecki, PhD, who led the solar session, the semiconductor industry's approach to solar modules holds the promise of significantly reducing the overall costs of generating solar energy, while also opening the door for innovative uses of photovoltaic technology. “At the end of our session, students understand the process of making solar cells and how to incorporate those cells as a part of innovative solutions to problems and challenges facing our world,” he says. Lesiecki is executive director of the Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center (MATEC).
SolarWorld, Intel and Portland Community College Host SEMI High Tech U 100th Program
Intel, Applied Materials, Portland Community College and SolarWorld sponsored 34 local high school girls to attend SEMI High Tech U March 22 – 24, 2010 in Hillsboro, Oregon.
Students experienced an intensive, three-day, industry-led introduction to the semiconductor industry, potential career paths, and educational requirements. The program was hosted at Intel’s Jones Farm Campus, Portland Community College and SolarWorld.
Students participated in several hands-on activities that focus on topics including statistics, nano-technology, solar and alternative energy technologies, mathematics, and problem solving. Students also participated in mock interviews and hear from a panel of area colleges and universities about local educational options. The program culminated with a graduation ceremony attended by students’ family.
Overall, this program was validated as a life changing experience for the students as evidenced by some of their comments:
- “The best part of the program has been learning new things, meeting new people, and knowing what opportunities there are to help us make important decisions in our future careers. I want to thank everyone who made it possible to go through this experience/opportunity. Every day should be this interesting.” Ariana S.
- “This was so interesting and very important for my future career.” Maria O.
- “I had set my mind to have fun, but I ended up learning so many things I never expected to learn about myself today. The best part of the program has been having a lot more things make sense, literally and scientifically about life and about science and about me and my future.” Mariam R.
- “I really liked the mock interview that we did. I now know what I need to work on for a real one.” Marisol G.
These attitudinal changes confirm the need for an HTU program. Many students in high school with the potential to do well feel very unsure of next steps due to a lack of vision and confidence. HTU stimulates, motivates and supports these young people far beyond what they are able to get in their high school environments.
SEMI High Tech U was created by San Jose, Calif.-based SEMI as a way of getting more students interested in science, math and high-tech careers. Since High Tech U began in 2001, over 100 programs have been delivered to nearly 3000 students and more than 500 teachers in the U.S., France, Austria, Japan and Singapore.
PV Group, The Grid – May 2010