- Technology giant Intel will provide $50 million in grants to Ohio colleges over the next decade, and it will spend another $50 million for development of STEM curricula at other two- and four-year institutions across the U.S.
- The latter investment will be matched by the U.S. National Science Foundation, which is giving $50 million for research and curriculum initiatives. The entire pot of money will help establish semiconductor manufacturing education at institutions nationwide.
- State leaders and the company are touting the funding as an opportunity to bolster workforce development amid a national worker shortage in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.
Intel is among the major technology players working with two- and four-year colleges to create in-demand academic programs. Among the others are Amazon and Google. The former has especially made in-roads teaming up with four-year institutions to develop cloud computing programs.
Intel's spending follows an announcement in January that it will build two $20 billion computer chip plants in the Columbus, Ohio, area, which it expects to create 3,000 jobs at the company and 7,000 construction jobs.
It plans to start building late in 2022 with the plants going live in 2025.
The $100 million Intel is investing in higher education is intended to help it find workers for the new operation, which will help develop curricula about semiconductors for associate and undergraduate degree programs.
Part of Ohio's share of the money will create the Intel Semiconductor Education and Research Program for the state, a multi-institution research program about the technology.
Semiconductors, or microchips, help power vast swaths of contemporary technology. Ohio State University President Kristina Johnson in a statement noted their ubiquity, including in smartphones and cars.
"They will also be integral to a wide range of applications in which Ohio State is actively involved from a research perspective, including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, vaccine development and more," Johnson said.
A representative from the Ohio Department of Higher Education referred questions to Intel, which did not respond to a request for comment. The office of Gov. Mike DeWine, who recently attended an inauguration event for the investment, also did not respond to a request for comment.
Intel this month announced a similar partnership with Maricopa Community Colleges, in Arizona, which will offer a two-week program for students who want careers as semiconductor technicians.
States have prioritized workforce development needs amid economic pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.
Michigan's governor funneled federal pandemic relief funds into a tuition-free college program for frontline workers. And California's governor has pushed workforce training among the state's community colleges by budgeting tens of millions of dollars for such initiatives.