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September 18, 2023

Inspiring Future Generations of Chip Industry Workers

High Tech U Expands to Reach Younger Students  

This past school year marked a significant turning point for the SEMI Foundation's education initiatives with the launch of High Tech U in the Classroom, a significant expansion of the Foundation’s flagship program, High Tech U. The retooled program provides partnership opportunities beyond high school, expanding to all of K-12. The SEMI Foundation redesigned the program to help meet the growing workforce demands of the microelectronics industry. The aim: Reach and inspire thousands of current K-12 students to pursue STEM education and careers.

"We know that students are making decisions around their futures earlier and earlier, and we really want to get ahead of that," said Kylie Patterson, Senior Advisor for Opportunity and Inclusion at the CHIPS for America office during her interaction with K-12 students at SEMICON West 2023.

ImageA core objective of High Tech U in the Classroom is to provide educators and students with hands-on experiential STEM learning kits that introduce them to the world of microelectronics and excite them about and careers in the industry. In its first year, the initiative has already seen remarkable success thanks to sponsorships by SEMI member companies such as Applied MaterialsKLANordson, and Western Digital.

Over the past 20 years, High Tech U has served about 400 students annually. During the 2022-2023 school year, High Tech U in the Classroom reached 3,400 students, more than eight times the annual average of the legacy program. Students and educators have provided overwhelmingly positive feedback, with teachers reporting high student engagement due to the hands-on nature of the kits. The program also connects with the industry image and awareness resources built by the SEMI Foundation, such as the SEMI Careers site and Roadtrip Nation’s Chip In documentary.

Teachers have the option of selecting their kits to best suit their students’ needs. For example, Micro:bits, a pocket-sized computer that introduces students to coding, demonstrates the relationship between software and hardware. CircuitScribe kits equip students with a conductive pen, an inventor’s workbook, and various modules that help guide them through the basics of circuits and electronics.

ImageThe expansion of High Tech U and the SEMI Foundation’s education efforts extends beyond the distribution of STEM kits. In collaboration with educational organizations such as Foothill CollegeIgnited Education, and the Krause Center for Innovation, the SEMI Foundation has built an extensive set of resources for K-12 educators. Much of this work was made possible through the support of the California Apprenticeship Initiative and is integrated with the Foundation’s SEMI Career and Apprenticeship Network (SCAN).

Catering to a diverse range of educational needs, SEMI Foundation K-12 resources include hands-on materials and curriculum that require no additional supplies. For example, the SEMI Foundation has developed a viewer's guide for Roadtrip Nation’s Chip In documentary, which follows three young professionals as they explore careers in the microelectronics industry. This guide helps teachers lead industry-relevant discussions that can be adapted to various age groups.

The educational materials are designed to inspire and enlighten students about the profound impact of the microelectronics industry on the modern world and the multitude of career opportunities in the industry.

ImageAs we look ahead to the 2023-2024 school year, the SEMI Foundation is poised for even more growth and impact. It is finding success in integrating High Tech U into localized STEM outreach efforts, such as the Digital Divas and Dudes programs of Eastern Michigan University, allowing an expanded reach of High Tech U with their local education partners.

To ensure continued growth and sustainability, High Tech U has also diversified its funding sources. In addition to having secured more corporate sponsorships, we are implementing our first version of the program funded by American Rescue Plan Act funding in the City of Milpitas. We are also working with the North Texas Semiconductor Workforce Development Consortium to enhance their recruitment efforts, as well as with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to widen our programmatic reach across the state of Michigan.

The success of High Tech U in the Classroom has also motivated us to expand internationally. High Tech U will be implemented in collaboration with STMicroelectronics in Singapore, opening doors to new international partnerships that reach students across the world.


We invite you to be a part of this critical journey as the SEMI Foundation continues to support the semiconductor industry in attracting, developing, and retaining talent. Join us in our STEM education work and strengthen your company’s brand recognition by sponsoring High Tech U in the Classroom kits in your local community.

To get involved and make an impact, please contact Berton Mahardja at

About the Author

HSBerton Mahardja is senior manager of Global Education Initiatives at SEMI. Prior to joining SEMI, Berton served in various roles across K-12 education. He is passionate about programs that support equitable STEM learning for students and adults.