May 3, 2007 – To match a flurry of local activity with new fab activity and upgrades, Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) says it is investing about $5.2 million for a program to prepare up to 300 undergraduate engineers each year for engineering jobs within the nation’s wafer fabs.
The “Wafer Fabrication Specialist Manpower Program,” in conjunction with the Nanyang Technological U. and National U. of Singapore, involves varying levels of stipend to students who specialize in wafer fabrication for one or two years, and promises “guaranteed job offers upon graduation” for all students in the program. The program is being jointly funded by the EDB and sponsoring companies from the wafer fab sector.
Surging growth in Singapore’s semiconductor sector is driving the need for more engineering talent, according to Lim Swee Nian, executive director of EDB’s Electronics cluster. “Besides the continued expansion of existing wafer fabrication plants, new players are attracted to Singapore with advanced technologies,” he said in a statement, citing recent plans from Qimonda for a new 300mm fab, as well as 300mm plans from Intel-Micron JV IM Flash (NAND flash), Soitec (SOI), and Lumileds (LEDs).
That $5.2M in funding is just the EDB’s portion, with unidentified funds coming from other companies who are already on board, with others indicating interest to participate, noted a spokesperson for the Singapore EDB. “We are expecting all the wafer fabrication companies currently based in Singapore [14 wafer fabs] will be sponsoring companies,” the spokesperson said. The program is already being rolled out to students, and will apply only to those students in their final year specializations.
Guaranteeing placement for every one of the program graduates may seem like a bold statement, but the EDB already had been getting feedback from the fabs about their need for wafer fab engineers over the next few years, and both sides are confident that the demand expectations will remain accurate, the spokesperson said,l adding that the EDB, university partners, and participating fabs are all working to design the program’s curriculum to focus on the fab capabilities needed.
Singapore currently has 14 operating wafer fabs, 20 test/assembly facilities, and 40 IC design centers, according to the EDB. That includes three 300mm wafer fabs (Chartered Semiconductor’s Fab 7, UMC’s Fab 12i, and TECH Semiconductor, a DRAM JV between Micron Technology, Canon, and Hewlett-Packard.