SkyWater's $1.8B Purdue plan shows what CHIPS Act money could accomplish

Minnesota-based semiconductor manufacturer SkyWater Technology earlier this week committed to build a $1.8 billion state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing facility at Purdue University, plans which got a step closer to reality with the U.S. Senate’s preliminary approval of the CHIPS Act hours after SkyWater’s announcement.

Building the new 600,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing facility, which includes 100,000 square feet of cleanroom space, will depend on SkyWater receiving funds from the CHIPS Act, the company said.

If all goes well SkyWater, expects to create 750 new direct jobs within five years after the new facility opens, and with Purdue’s reputation as one of the top universities for engineering and other high-tech-related fields of study, it may be in the right place to fill those jobs..

In locating in Discovery Park District, a 400-acre mixed-use development adjacent to Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, it will join the likes of Saab, Rolls-Royce, major facilities and partnerships in hypersonics, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Wabash, MediaTek and others. In fact, MediaTek just last month announced plans to open a semiconductor design center in Discovery Park District.

This week’s announcement also comes after Purdue in May, launched a comprehensive set of interdisciplinary degrees and credentials in semiconductors and microelectronics. The Semiconductor Degrees Program (SDP), the suite of innovative Purdue degrees and credentials, will educate both graduate and undergraduate students, in residence and online, enabling a quick ramp-up of skilled talent. 

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, who spoke during SkyWater’s presentation of its plans this week, praised the introduction of the CHIPS for America Act and urged Congress to fund it. “Days like today prove that Indiana’s investments in the economy of the future, infrastructure and talent development are cultivating an environment that enables innovators such as SkyWater to choose Indiana,” he said. “Our success and our mission to support industries of the future would not be possible without the incredible partnerships with our globally ranked universities, like Purdue University, helping us attract and retain quality, innovative talent.” 

Thomas Sonderman, president and CEO, SkyWater Technology, added, “This endeavor to bolster our chip fabrication facilities will rely on funding from the CHIPS Act. Federal investment will enable SkyWater to more quickly expand our efforts to address the need for strategic reshoring of semiconductor manufacturing. Through our alliance with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and Purdue Research Foundation, we have a unique opportunity to increase domestic production, shore up our supply chains and lay the groundwork for manufacturing technologies that will support growing demand for microelectronics.”