Hailing it as one of the largest commitments made by a college or university to high-tech industry and national defense, Indiana University officials announced plans Tuesday to invest $111 million in new faculty, facilities, equipment and strategic initiatives focused on advancements in microelectronics and nanotechnology.
As part of the nine-figure investment, the state’s flagship university will collaborate with the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division—the third-largest U.S. Navy installation in the world, located about 35 miles southwest of IU Bloomington—to address emerging semiconductor technologies, accelerate research and development, and expand the Hoosier microelectronics workforce.
“This is an investment in the economic vitality of our state,” IU President Pam Whitten told IBJ. “We hope it really represents clear evidence of our commitment as a national defense partner to NSWC Crane.”
The investment will help support partnerships with defense contractors and companies working to develop dual-use technologies that work in both defense and civilian applications, said Angela Lewis, technical director of NSWC Crane.
The investments include:
- $53.5 million to support laboratories and other facilities, equipment and faculty startup costs; increasing research partnerships; expanding federal grants and contracts; and fostering collaborations between IU and Crane
- $23.5 million to recruit 25 new faculty members in microelectronics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, machine learning and cybersecurity, with a focus on finding candidates with Department of Defense experience.
- $13.5 million toward implementing new degree programs to train students in microelectronics, semiconductors and nanofabrication.
- $10 million to launch the new Center for Reliable and Trusted Electronics, called IU CREATE, which will lead research activities focused on modeling and simulation of radiation effects and the design of “radiation-hardened technologies.”
- $1 million to support faculty research in technology areas like biotechnology and synthetic biology.
U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who co-authored the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science, or CHIPS, Act, said the partnership is “pivotal to national security and economic competitiveness” and another example of how Indiana is “leading the way in our modern economy.”
Russ Mumper, vice president for research and economic development at IU, said the investments can be used to leverage additional funding from the CHIPS Act.
“We are making a bet that having that capability will open up tremendous opportunities for additional federal funding from multiple defense-related agencies and companies in various industries that wish to do that type of research,” Mumper told IBJ.
The Department of Defense recently chose Indiana for one of eight regional technology and innovation hubs, the largest award to date under the CHIPS Act.
Indiana Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg said IU’s investment aligns with the state’s economic development goals.
“As we compete on the global stage to attract companies with a focus on microelectronics and nanotechnology, it’s important that this business growth is bolstered by the state’s research and educational institutions,” Rosenberg said in written remarks. “Indiana University’s investment will have an impact on so many critical areas—population growth, growing an economy of the future and national security.”
Rosenberg, who also leads the Indiana Economic Development Corp., has said the state is pursuing several advanced manufacturing projects that together would exceed $55 billion in investments, including a potential $50 billion semiconductor plant in Boone County.
Other semiconductor projects are already in the works. Minnesota-based Skywater Technology announced plans last year to build a $1.8 billion semiconductor production facility at Purdue University. Meanwhile, a new microelectronic campus at WestGate@Crane Technology Park, which is adjacent to NSWS Crane, is bringing four semiconductor companies to Indiana that are expected to create up to 550 jobs.