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How the Micron Foundation Makes Innovation Academic

By Micron Foundation - 2017-12-07

The University Relations program seeks people and projects with the potential to transform industries

University Relations
The Micron Foundation supports research opportunities at universities around the world by funding research projects that provide unique opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

Whether it’s autonomous vehicles, machine learning or the cloud, Micron’s expertise helps the biggest ideas of today become reality. But how do we enable the big ideas of tomorrow? By partnering with the brightest minds at colleges and universities across the globe, the Micron Foundation is investing in people and projects with the potential to reshape our industry.

Specifically, the Foundation’s University Relations efforts help engineer the future with student-focused funding programs that provide unique, hands-on opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in semiconductor-related fields. This includes fellowships, supporting student competitions and participating in research symposiums. The Foundation also works with educators to support ongoing research efforts and improve engineering education through gifts, many of which are inspired by Micron engineers and involve the advancement of semiconductor materials, devices and processes.

“We have learned so much throughout the years with the grants we’ve made and the projects that we’ve been involved with in universities around the world,” said Micron Foundation Executive Director Dee Mooney. “We have relied heavily on these insights as we expand our support in newer locations where we are just beginning to explore different opportunities. The Foundation also relies on the insights of our local leaders who know their community and the educational leaders who will be the best partners for the type of projects that align with our vision and focus areas.”

Unlike corporate research, Foundation-funded research is not proprietary to Micron and is required to be more broadly focused. Because these projects are generally more exploratory or fundamental in nature, the results often benefit the entire industry or technology as a whole.

Some of the current university relations projects and initiatives supported by the Foundation include:

Brigham Young University (BYU), USA

With the Foundation’s support, BYU will be able to continue education and its mentorship and undergraduate research program, IMMERSE, at its Integrated Microfabrication Lab (IML), which the grant helps keep free of charge for students, staff and faculty. The donation will also support the university’s Chip Camp, which is modeled on the Foundation’s Chip Camp program. Additionally, the grant will help fund a new school initiative to recruit women into engineering and retain them in the field.

George Mason University (GMU), USA

Already a strategic partner to the Micron Foundation for its research and training of big data fields for Micron team members, George Mason University will use its Micron Foundation grant to support the advanced nanotech cleanroom, located at its SCITECH campus in Manassas, Virginia.

Iowa State University (ISU), USA

The advent of 3D electronic circuits has created the need to understand and improve the properties of thin-film, polycrystalline semiconductors and reduce leakage currents. The Foundation works with Vikram Dalal, who leads the university’s Microelectronics Research Center, and provides ISU with research grant support to investigate deposition chemistry and study the physics of newer, larger bandgap materials made from oxides.

University of Arizona, USA

The University of Arizona’s College of Engineering’s research into the effects of alkaline etching on high-aspect ratio trenches in polysilicon, led by Srini Raghaven, is able to continue with the support of a Foundation grant.

Feng Chia University, Taiwan

Recognized as one of the top private universities in Taiwan, Feng Chia University (FCU) is known for its computer science and electrical engineering programs. The university is using its Micron Foundation grant to support three major initiatives: a two-session forum on industrial innovation and big data, eight data-science workshops, and a big data technical tools research and development outcomes presentation.

Hiroshima University, Japan

Hiroshima University is using its Foundation grant to support its Global Science Campus, a project focused on developing high school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) talent. Initiated in 2015, the program began with 250 Japanese high school students. After screenings and essays, 60 students continued on to the second stage, with only two moving on to the final phase. The two finalists participated in a NASA academic society conference held in the United States in 2016. In addition to the grant, the Foundation donated a microgravity tool to the program, helping support the two finalists’ research efforts. The finalists will present at the upcoming IEEE Asia Test Symposium in Taipei, Taiwan, in November.

Singapore: Student Exchange Program

The Micron Foundation partners with other U.S. businesses to support a scholarship program to promote greater mutual understanding and collaboration between the next generation of Singaporeans and Americans through student scholarships for study abroad. The scholarship program also aims to enhance existing relationships and forge new ones between universities in Singapore and the United States.

European Academic Initiatives

Micron also has several collaborations with some of the most prestigious universities in the region, including the Politecnico di Milano, Universities of Milano Bicocca, Padova, Rome, Naples, Catania, L'Aquila and other key research institutions like CNR in Italy, Aachen University, the Max-Planck Institute and the University of Heidelberg in Germany. With the support of the Micron Foundation, Micron promotes a variety of initiatives including research cooperation on specific programs, PhD and intern sponsorships, workshops and seminars for the broad research community, by strengthening relations with strategic stakeholders and by opening new channels with top academic players in Europe.

Whether it involves supporting student programs, partnering with educators on research projects or helping support a new building with the tools and resources to inspire, the Foundation’s University Relations efforts revolve around sparking a passion with students and helping educators engineer the future — including the semiconductor workforce. The goal of every opportunity supported by the Foundation is to provide students with the knowledge and background to start their careers as soon as they leave campus, and to be prepared to contribute to the next wave of innovation.

Mooney said this global giving effort will only continue to grow and evolve, and the Foundation will seek other nontraditional opportunities to accomplish its mission of getting students excited about STEM careers.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about helping students reach their full potential,” she said.

University of Heidelberg

Foundation-funded projects often lead to exciting developments and innovations that can positively affect the world in a variety of ways. In 2014 the Foundation provided a research grant to the Computer Architecture Group at the University of Heidelberg in Germany to explore the field of next-generation memory technologies. The students worked toward developing and supporting an open-source memory controller for the Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) and a corresponding verification environment.

Fast-forward to 2017, and find that the research produced the open source/open HMC software that is now enabling a new generation of data scientists to get involved with a much larger project, known as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The SKA is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope. It requires data processing facilities and capabilities beyond what is currently available, producing data volumes in excess of current global internet traffic.

For more on the SKA and its international implications, visit the links below:


Micron Foundation

The Micron Foundation is focused on developing effective programs that promote science, technology, engineering, and math education; and to participate in activities that address the priorities and concerns of the communities where Micron employees live and work.