The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was recently chosen as the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) newest partner in a national network to help students pursuing a career in microelectronics.
The Scalable Asymmetric Life Cycle Engagement Consortium (SCALE) is a national network of private and public agencies and universities—including Vanderbilt and Purdue—focused on increasing the talent pipeline for those careers.
SCALE focuses on five technical areas that it says are crucial for the future of microelectronics: radiation effects, advanced packaging, supply chain, embedded systems and system on a chip (SoC) systems.
With a $400,000 grant from MDA, UTC will focus specifically on radiation effects on microelectronics. The College of Engineering and Computer Science offers one of the few programs in the country with a focus on this area of study.
“This is a niche area that is highly critical to space,” said Daniel Loveless, UC Foundation associate professor of electrical engineering.
When an electronic device is launched into space, for example, it encounters radiation and other circumstances that can have lasting effects. While underrepresented in education, the study of radiation’s effects is critical to providing support for the commercialization of space and numerous programs to modernize defense systems.
UTC plans to bolster opportunities for undergraduate student engagement by developing coursework, design projects, industry internships and research opportunities in the field, he said.
Local community colleges and K-12 programs will benefit as well.
“UTC is particularly poised to connect with a broader audience,” Loveless said.
“We need to have a massively larger workforce. So, UTC is going to target partnerships with local community colleges. We’re also going to build modules for K-12 curriculum, leveraging several elements that Hamilton County Schools have put into place like the Future Ready Institutes, for example.”
Loveless and his students previously worked with area schools such as STEM School Chattanooga, Baylor School and Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy. Now they’ll be able to expand those partnerships, he said.
Through SCALE, UTC also will build stronger relationships with industry agencies, making it easier for undergraduate students to secure paid internships. And that’s the goal, Loveless explained.
“We want to guarantee that these students who will be involved, will get paid internships in the field.”
Classroom partnerships are in the works as well. UTC plans to offer an undergraduate radiation effects course that will run parallel with similar courses at partner institutions, Loveless explained.