KU Engineering develops curriculum to address workforce shortage in microchip production

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas University of Engineering assistant professor has received a federal grant to discover employing “gamifying” techniques to increase the interest of undergraduate pupils to discover the design and software of electronic components.

Tamzidul Hoque, assistant professor of electrical engineering & computer system science, led the team that is splitting the $600,000 award from the Nationwide Science Foundation. A 3rd of that dollars will go to KU the rest will go to the University of Florida (UF), wherever Hoque’s collaborators Pasha Antonenko, Mary Jo Koroly and Swarup Bhunia are centered.

The venture could ultimately have a direct effects on Americans’ pocketbooks, Hoque reported. The source chain disaster has pushed inflation all through the last 12 months — with new vehicle price ranges, in specific, skyrocketing because producers have been not able to import sufficient pc chips that most fashionable automobiles count on. Because of to the rising adoption of digital equipment, the international chip lack could also influence other industries these types of as aerospace, protection, wellness treatment and info engineering.

That is led to a developing fascination in rebuilding the United States’ chip-manufacturing capacity. Intel introduced in January a strategy to invest $20 billion on a new plant in Ohio, and the organization could commit up to $100 billion over the up coming ten years.

But there’s a catch.

These infrastructure are unable to be utilized without engineers, scientists and specialists with the means to style and design, manufacture and use these refined equipment. Nevertheless, misconceptions bordering production jobs between school college students, alongside with the escalating reputation of computing jobs related to knowledge analytics and synthetic intelligence, motivate students with engineering majors to stay away from components-associated courses all through their scientific tests, in accordance to Hoque.

Even while programming and coding have been given wonderful emphasis at the superior faculty and undergraduate stage, elementary understanding of electronic hardware, i.e., the innards of a computing process — from bits to circuits to systems — and essential operating ideas have not gained a lot focus. The standard hardware-oriented core courses frequently are unsuccessful to stimulate curiosity even amongst the undergraduate learners in pc engineering, personal computer science and electrical engineering, according to Hoque. Thanks to the deficiency of curiosity, these students mainly ignore elective hardware-oriented courses afterwards in their diploma and do not consider the flourishing semiconductor business as their job alternative.

“The challenge we are trying to tackle right here is that now in the semiconductor or hardware industry, we really don’t have plenty of workforce, and quick improvement to the chip-production ability is not feasible without having that,” Hoque claimed.

The goal of this challenge is twofold. A person intention is to get far more college students intrigued in chip design and style and manufacturing. The other is to support get ready pupils in other engineering professions, this kind of as mechanical and biomedical engineers, to use all those chips in their methods.

“The students from various majors also will need to know a good deal about components so that they can build new applications for well being treatment programs, new automotive programs and so on,” Hoque said.

Gamifying the teaching process may bounce-begin the approach by making electronic hardware a far more appealing topic to early undergraduate learners, motivating them to study about superior structure and operational ideas by getting larger-amount courses.

“That’s why we are striving to acquire this new system of the curriculum, which will educate fundamentals of hardware from a program viewpoint by means of a fingers-on strategy to students from any engineering big,” Hoque explained. “And we will do that utilizing as quite a few fascinating games that can be played on our hardware platform.” 

Principal investigator Antonenko and Co-PI Koroly will analysis and appraise the feasibility of the games at UF and leverage them for large university college students and academics through summer camps and specialist progress institutes organized by UF’s Center for Pre-collegiate Schooling and Coaching.

During the initially two years of the job, superior schoolers and their lecturers will supply comments on the design of partaking actions. The educational study will focus on the enhancement of students’ situational interest in hardware engineering and procedures to sustain that curiosity.

Hoque will use the novel curriculum in a new summertime class available at KU as an elective undergraduate study course for all engineering majors.

Hoque explained the NSF award reflects perfectly on KU’s reputation in the computer system engineering industry.

“It certainly allows that at the College of Kansas, we have the services to produce these a curriculum,” he claimed. “I’m quite thankful to our office and our affiliate dean for educational affairs at the University of Engineering, Mario Medina, for their support.”