Purdue University Partners with Chipmaker on Midwest’s First Semiconductor Design Center
Purdue University’s College of Engineering is partnering with MediaTek Inc., a leading global fabless chipmaker, to open the Midwest’s first semiconductor chip design center, to be housed on Purdue’s campus.
Mung Chiang, Purdue’s John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering and executive vice president for strategic initiatives, joined Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb; Bradley B. Chambers and Don Graves, Indiana’s secretary of commerce and deputy secretary of commerce; and MediaTek leaders in hailing the announcement. Chiang is Purdue’s president-elect.
The center marks another piece of Purdue’s commitment in addressing society’s increasing semiconductor demands and the needed talent pool. In May, the university announced the launch of its Semiconductor Degrees Program, a comprehensive set of innovative, interdisciplinary degrees and credentials in semiconductors and microelectronics. The university also in May announced a partnership with Ivy Tech Community College to provide a variety of collaborative educational opportunities for faculty and students in microelectronics and to explore ways to attract more talent to this area.
MediaTek and Purdue also will partner on new chip design engineering degree programs, research on artificial intelligence and communications chip design. This collaboration is still in the works.
“Attracting a world-class chip design firm to Indiana has been a longtime goal for our team,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “I applaud Secretary Chambers, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and, of course, the whole team here at Purdue for doing the hard work necessary to get a global company to take a look at Indiana and all we have to offer. The MediaTek investment confirms Indiana’s emergence as a center of semiconductor technology and Purdue’s Discovery Park District as the state’s premier new economic engine.”
The idea for a new design center for MediaTek was born in 2021, when Gov. Holcomb traveled to Silicon Valley to pitch chip CEOs about Indiana’s commitment to the semiconductor industry. Combined with a follow-up invitation to visit Purdue from Daniels, the Purdue College of Engineering made its case for a first-of its-kind collaboration that included a new design center on campus.
“This means students at Purdue will have the opportunity to interact with world-class chip design talent right across the street,” Chiang said.
Chiang’s team worked with the IEDC to fully leverage Purdue’s role as one of the top engineering schools to attract this new semiconductor investment.
The Purdue partnership represents a new U.S. growth model for MediaTek USA—outside the traditional centers of gravity for chip design.
“We believe strongly that being in Indiana means we’ll have access to some of the best engineering talent in the world,” said Kou-Hung Lawrence Loh, corporate senior vice president of MediaTek Inc. and president of MediaTek USA Inc. “Not just at Purdue, but West Lafayette is only four hours away from nearly a dozen of the top engineering schools in the country. In the post-pandemic world, top candidates tell us they want to be closer to home, near family and they want to have a real house and great public schools. Indiana offers all that and more.”
Chambers said, “Today’s MediaTek’s fabless design center investment is a testament to Indiana’s advanced manufacturing expertise, our world-class university talent combined with our state’s best-in-class, business-friendly climate and focus on higher-wage industries of the future. Our team fully expects that MediaTek’s announcement is just the beginning of semiconductor investment in Indiana, and in the coming years the Accelerating Microelectronics Production and Development (AMPD) task force will be instrumental in facilitating further investment momentum from this critically important industry to the state.”
MediaTek has been partnering with U.S. universities on advanced research for more than a decade, but this latest project is unique in that a new center will be sited directly on campus and is an opportunity for students to both complete their engineering education and contribute directly to product design and solutions for a global team. The collaboration also will help bring more advanced semiconductor design talent to Indiana.
“As a global company, MediaTek has literally a world of options at its fingertips, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that they’ve chosen Indiana to grow and build the foundation and future of the semiconductor industry alongside the brightest minds in the world,” Holcomb said. “MediaTek chose a thriving, top-rated university with innovation expertise and a strong talent pipeline that will power these quality careers for decades to come.”
MediaTek officials shared the news with senior leaders, other international investors and policymakers during the 2022 SelectUSA Investment Summit in National Harbor, Maryland. The conference, now in its ninth year, is the largest annual forum for foreign direct investment in the U.S. It brings together business leaders from international markets and economic development representatives from all U.S. states and territories. MediaTek is a member of a large delegation from Taiwan participating in this year’s conference.