WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo visited Purdue University Tuesday to discuss the future of semiconductor manufacturing.
“What we’re doing at home and particularly what is happening here goes directly to our standing and leadership in the world,” Blinken said.
Blinken and Raimondo praised the work at the university to help expand U.S. manufacturing of semiconductors, the technology that helps power many products, including cell phones and cars.
Both members of President Joe Biden’s cabinet joined Gov. Eric Holcomb and Sen. Todd Young (R-Indiana) on a tour of Purdue’s microelectronics facilities as the university scales up its semiconductor degree programs.
“This place is maybe one of the most inspiring human fabs that I’ve ever seen,” Blinken said after the tour.
The visit comes not long after Gov. Eric Holcomb’s trip to Taiwan – a world leader in semiconductor production – and the announcement of two new facilities coming to West Lafayette: A semiconductor chip design center run by MediaTek Inc. and a SkyWater Technology chip manufacturing plant.
The group of state and federal officials touted the bipartisan CHIPS Act during Tuesday’s visit, saying the funding it provides will help further expand the semiconductor industry in the U.S. The law provides $52 billion for new semiconductor plants across the nation.
“To ensure that we outgrow, out-innovate and out-compete the Chinese Community Party to ensure that American values prevail,” said Sen. Young, who helped lead the effort to get the law passed.
When asked how Indiana and the rest of the U.S. will be able to meet the workforce needs these jobs will require, Young and Raimondo pointed out the CHIPS Act includes funding for workforce training at all education levels.
“The best way to do workforce development is in partnership between the companies who hire people and colleges, community colleges, high schools,” Raimondo said.
“We’re making investments very early on, the first steps you might say, K-12,” Gov. Holcomb said. “This is about GED to PhD.”
Purdue University President and former Gov. Mitch Daniels said he believes Indiana’s K-12 schools have “work to do” to prepare students for jobs in the semiconductor industry.
“The jobs we are talking about here today will require, just as a Purdue education today requires, a high level of cognitive ability,” Daniels said. “And right now it’s not clear that our public schools in Indiana are up to that challenge. I hope they get there.”