SEMI High Tech U Shoots for the Sun


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SEMI High Tech U Shoots for the Sun

Over the past decade, the worldwide photovoltaic market has experienced astronomic growth, and is forecast to continue growing at this breakneck pace for years to come from US$11.2 billion in 2005, up to an estimated US$51.1 billion market by 2015.

Capitalizing on this opportunity, many Silicon Valley companies are beginning to build up their infrastructures to accommodate the demand for these technologies. In addition, a number of companies are working in conjunction with higher learning institutions to prepare college and university students for the new position created by this boom. The SEMI Foundation, however, is taking this movement even one step further—by bringing these technologies to the high school level.

The Foundation’s flagship program, SEMI High Tech U, or HTU as it is better known, has helped educate thousands of students and hundreds of teachers about career opportunities in the semiconductor manufacturing and related industries over the past seven years. Recently, Foundation board members decided to address the growing energy segment through the addition of the solar energy/photovoltaics-focused program.

As part of this three-day program that helps introduce students to some of the Silicon Valley’s most cutting edge technologies, students will also receive an introduction to the emerging solar energy industry, and will learn the basics of solar cell physics and design. During the program, students will also witness the process that creates solar cells on silicon wafers. In addition, they will gain firsthand experience using digital instruments that measure solar voltage, and will record measurements into a special computer program, ultimately gaining perspective on how solar array circuitry actually collects data.

More importantly, the new program element reinforces the goal of the program to expose high school age children to, and build their interest in, pursuing careers in math, science and engineering.

“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,” said Lisa Anderson, vice president of the SEMI Foundation. “Because of this, it is important to expand the existing HTU offering to incorporate this exciting technology and provide these students with a better rounded perspective, giving them the foundation to make more informed decisions about their future educational and career goals.”

In late February, the SEMI Foundation, with co-sponsors Intel and Applied Materials, will bring the enhanced program back to the Silicon Valley. Unique elements will include a tour of Applied Materials and its thin film solar manufacturing tools and operation, as well as a hands-on student solar cell lab.

“The time to increase student awareness on this next evolution, and its impending impact on our world is now,” said Anderson. “The minds we inspire today, could be the innovators responsible for driving our industry tomorrow.”

For more information, or to become a sponsor of SEMI High Tech U programs, please visit www.semi.org/foundation.

SEMI High Tech U is an industry-driven math and science-based career exploration program for high school students and teachers.