Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine visited campus today to participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the university’s new Micron Technology Semiconductor Processing Laboratory—a state-of-the-art facility that will further enhance microelectronic engineering education and faculty research in the College of Engineering.

Kaine was joined by President Charles W. Steger; Pat Otte, site director, Micron Technology Virginia; Richard Benson, dean of the College of Engineering; James Thorp, the Hugh P. and Ethel C. Kelly Professor of Electrical Engineering and head of the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Robert Hendricks, electrical and computer engineering professor at the ceremony.

The refurbished laboratory, made possible by a $750,000 gift from Micron Technology, Inc., and equipped with state-of-the-art equipment purchased with state funds and federal research grant monies, will enhance the ability of students and faculty in the College of Engineering to perform advanced research in the semiconductors and microelectronic engineering.

Micron Technology, based in Boise, Idaho, is one of the world's largest and most innovative providers of advanced memory and imaging semiconductor solutions.

“The Micron laboratory will create numerous educational opportunities for our students,” said Benson. “Undergraduate students enrolled in the college’s new microelectronic engineering minor, as well as other students who are planning to do senior projects or independent research in the area of microelectronics will have access to the very best equipment and work space. Faculty conducting research in microelectronics and optoelectronics, nanotechnology and microelectromechanical systems will also benefit tremendously.”

“It is essential that both companies themselves, and universities take their rightful responsibilities to move technology forward through research and development. Partners like Virginia Tech who share this vision, continue to increase the level of competitiveness of our nation,” said Pat Otte, Micron’s Virginia site director. “In addition to more quality research, we believe that this industry and government commitment will cultivate qualified, talented and experienced pools of engineers that Micron needs to compete globally in the fast-paced microelectronics industry.”

Hendricks will oversee the activities associated with the Micron Scholars program, which provides scholarships and academic support for approximately five students a year in the microelectronic engineering program, the Microelectronic Engineering minor, and the semiconductor processing lab course. Hendricks plans to optimize the course offerings for the Microelectronic Engineering minor with particular focus given to hands-on research opportunities as a supplement to traditional lecture courses as well as further develop the lab course to take advantage of the newly installed state-of-the-art processing tools.

“We anticipate an enrollment of 20-30 students per year in our microelectonics engineering program,” said Hendricks. “The impact these students will have on the growing microelectronics industry will be significant.”

Since 2002, the Micron Scholars Program has provided scholarships to students in the microelectronic engineering program. Micron Scholars come from Virginia Tech’s Chemical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering departments. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must work towards an interdepartmental minor in microelectronic engineering. Each Micron Scholar receives two to three years of funding, at approximately $5,000 per year through the Micron Technology Foundation.

In 2005, Micron announced a $1.2 billion expansion of their fabrication facilities in Manassas. That same year, former Gov. Warner also approved a $2 million grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to increase work force development efforts and semiconductor technology capacity at higher education institutions. Micron committed funds to Northern Virginia Community College for technical training programs and to Virginia Tech for the renovation of the semiconductor processing laboratory.