Ohio University and Intel: Past, present and future

Published: March 23, 2022 Author: Staff reports

Since the inception of Intel, founded in 1969, Ohio University graduates have been critical to the evolution of innovative ideas in microprocessing and semiconducting for the company. OHIO plans to continue building that invaluable partnership with Intel as the company expands into central Ohio.

In January 2022, Intel announced it will open two new semiconductor fabrication plants in New Albany, Ohio. This is a $20 billion dollar investment, the single largest private sector investment in the state’s history. This announcement comes with the promise that Intel will invest $100 million to develop and attract skilled talent and bolster research programs, developing partnerships with organizations such as OHIO. 

"Intel's investment in higher education and the creation of job opportunities for skilled talent in STEM fields shows immense potential for an exciting partnership with Ohio University,” said Mei Wei, dean of Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology. 

“The fact that several of Ohio University’s graduates with bachelor and master’s degrees as well as many of our Ph.D.’s work at Intel is a strong indicator that we are providing our students with the skills to succeed in today’s increasingly technical world and establish high-profile careers with global companies like Intel,” added Florenz Plassmann, dean of Ohio University’s College of Arts and Sciences.  

The construction of these fabrication plants is part of strategic investment in domestic manufacturing to create jobs in Ohio, supplement the current shortage of semiconductor chips and stimulate research at local universities, such as OHIO.

OHIO graduate makes history with Intel’s first commercial product

OHIO’s connection to Intel began in the company’s inception with the early collaboration of alumnus Hua-Thye “HT” Chua, BSEE ’59, and Intel’s cofounder Robert Noyce. Chua applied for and received the patent for Intel’s first commercial product, the i3101 64-bit RAM chip using the Schottky diode. He also co-authored a paper with Noyce about the impact of the Schottky diode on the science of integrated circuits; the technology outlined in the paper is still being used in the semiconductor industry today.

Chua has cemented his impact in both the success of Intel and Ohio University through his successes and accolades. He is a member of the 2002 Electronic Design Hall of Fame alongside names like Alan Turing, Nikola Tesla and Robert Noyce. He has made significant contributions to the Computer History Museum, including his patent notebook documenting some of his most significant contributions to the field. Chua is the 2014 recipient of OHIO’s Konneker Medal for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship and a member of the Russ College Academy of Distinguished Graduates. Lastly, his relationship with Intel marked the beginning of a storied relationship that spans to the present day, as current OHIO graduates continue to build their careers with Intel.

Current semiconductor research at OHIO

While HT Chua was a pioneer in semiconductor research, OHIO is home to leading researchers in the industry with innovative ideas for the future. Avinash Karanth, Savas Kaya, Faiz Rahman and Wojciech Jadwisienczak, all faculty members in the Russ College, work in tandem to support various functions and components of the hardware computing stack, from new materials and devices to emerging circuits and architectures to support next generation computing platforms.

“One of the strengths that we have is that we have the expertise in both the hardware and the software domain. We research how these devices are being designed, manufactured into a circuit and incorporated into power-efficient and high-performance computing architecture,” said Karanth, chair of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. 

The OHIO semiconductor researchers have always put emphasis on exploring and understanding emergent technologies, including ideas in cognitive science and intelligence sensing. This focus on the future aligns with Intel’s mission to drive innovation and improve the quality of life for people across the globe. 

“We have two ongoing collaborations with Intel in India. For the first project we are trying to optimize the quality-of-service (QoS) and tail latency of multicore systems for cloud computing. We are also working with another group at Intel wherein we are researching how to intelligently supply power to these chips for AI applications,” said Karanth.

The OHIO team is looking forward to continuing to build their relationship with Intel as the new semiconductor fabrication plants undergo construction. 

The future of Ohio University and Intel

OHIO and Intel can build upon an already strong foundation to support innovative research and develop a pipeline for experienced students to thrive at the company. 

“We are already training our students in the emerging areas of electrical engineering, physics, material science and computer science. Our students are publishing at the top architecture and circuit conferences and journals, which helps us to continue to leverage these new technologies,” said Karanth. 

Ohio University’s Nanoscale Quantum Phenomena Institute (NQPI) advances such critical cross-disciplinary research and innovation by providing infrastructure, fostering collaboration and promoting communication. The research of faculty associated with NQPI ranges from organic materials to semiconductors and spans the macroscopic to nanoscale and quantum regimes.  NQPI offers summer internships for undergraduate research as well as fellowships for graduate students. 

“The experiences of our students with concentrations in Materials Science as well as Condensed Matter and Materials Physics are particularly relevant for the research undertaken by companies like Intel,” said Plassmann.

Those are not the only skills that have opened the doors at Intel for Ohio University’s graduates. Many students in the Russ College’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, as well as the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences are graduating with the technical skills to succeed in research and development and the experiential skills to succeed in hands-on applications of their knowledge. OHIO’s focus on an experience-driven education prepares students to excel in the workforce from the moment they graduate.

While many of OHIO’s experiences reside in physics and electrical engineering, many other disciplines will play a role in shaping the next generation of America’s semiconductor industry. In the Russ College alone, the Mechanical, Chemical, Industrial and Systems and Engineering Technology and Management Departments each bring extensive capabilities ranging from materials development, modelling and simulation and lean management techniques. Together these disciplines represent a broad and robust set of skills as Intel and its competitors seek to reposition the United States atop the world’s semiconductor manufacturing pyramid.

Over 100 OHIO graduates have retired from Intel and there are over 60 Bobcats who are currently working for the company. 

“I am looking forward to watching OHIO graduates excel with Intel as the construction of the New Albany plants begin," finished Wei.