Air Products Promotes Global Philanthropy Through Education Initiatives


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Air Products Promotes Global Philanthropy Through Education Initiatives

There are two vital elements required for innovation–money and people. In many cases, venture capital funding is available for the latest and greatest ideas, but an innovation bottleneck comes as the result of a shortage of qualified candidates to fill new technical positions, as increasingly, students at the secondary level have found less and less interest to pursue careers in high technology. This phenomenon is becoming more pervasive, not just in the USA, but throughout many of the major manufacturing regions worldwide.

Since the latter part of the last century, many organizations in the semiconductor manufacturing arena have begun to see the results of this problem firsthand, and are taking steps toward a solution. To address this issue, the SEMI Foundation, and over fifty members of the global SEMI association, have been sponsoring and organizing a program known as SEMI High Tech U, which has, to date, reached over 1,800 students directly and over 20,000 students through it’s SEMI HTU Teacher Edition program.

HTU provides students with a unique life/goal changing experience. To date 58 HTU programs have been delivered in the United States, Japan, France and Singapore.

“High Tech U’s highly interactive, three-day curriculum, includes hands-on activities that demonstrate semiconductor manufacturing concepts and explain microchip logic,” said Kassie Hilgert, manager of Community Relations & Philanthropy Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. “By immersing these students in the high tech industry and hands-on demonstrations taught by experts from local companies, High Tech U sparks student interest in pursuing degrees and careers in math, science and technology.”

As a major corporate sponsor of the program, Air Products has donated time, money and resources to the High Tech U programs to communities around the globe.

“This program helps us to build a reservoir of goodwill in the communities that we reside in,” said Hilgert. “We place a huge emphasis on our philanthropic efforts and employee volunteerism in many areas including education, health and human services, arts and culture, as well other civic-focused organizations. HTU, with its focus on education and workforce development, is a perfect fit within our giving priorities.”

Though students are the main focus of the program, the SEMI Foundation also places huge importance on introducing and training teachers on the curriculum, so they might incorporate some of the activities and teachings of High Tech U into their own curricula. Recently, at a High Tech U program in Dallas, Texas, Gerhard Hainscho and Peter Holub, both veteran teachers of science and mathematics in Austria, had the opportunity to take part in the program, along with 34 other math and science teachers from different locales.

They captured the experience of all the teachers when they said, “It sometimes seems that as everything [in technology] has become so complex, students are not interested in understanding and developing new ideas in science and technology.” said Holub. “Through programs like High Tech U, we can show the young generation that effort, invention and creative thinking are truly what make the world great and are within their reach.”

For more information and to become involved in upcoming 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.