Driving Innovation: From Talk to Action

There are lots of good things ahead…providing we have enough young people coming into the industry.


During the recent SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium, one of the themes focused on the challenges of building an innovative workforce with fresh ideas.

KLA CEO and president Rick Wallace’s opening keynote address included an appeal for industry to actively recruit more young talent to foster greater levels of innovative thinking. He said that only four percent of the U.S. workforce is composed of scientists or engineers and the number is not increasing. When the best and the brightest do make the decision to pursue science and technology, they may associate excitement with Apple, Facebook and Google. Wallace said that our work is just as exciting, challenging and interesting — and arguably more important, but our industry doesn’t capture the imagination of the talented people that we need to be successful in the future. We have a great story to tell, we just don’t do a good job of it.

Terry Brewer, president and founder of Brewer Science, talked about his dissatisfaction with the emphasis on cost reduction that is so pervasive in industry dialog. He fears the industry is drifting away from true innovation as a driver of technology. In terms of the industry’s need to recruit future talent, Brewer said that it will be hard because of the intense focus on cost. Brewer contrasted the industry mindset to that of Apple’s, saying that, “Steve Jobs came out with an $800 phone when everyone else was trying to reduce cost. Apple won because it had a better value proposition.”

While technology demand and manufacturing efficiency provide the motivation for continued innovation in the minds of some, others believe the supply chain is forfeiting its value proposition and places too much emphasis on cost reduction. More optimistically, Mike Splinter talked about “Where there is a demand for innovation, innovation will happen. I am excited about next 10 to 15 years. The only limitation we may have is assuring that we have the young people coming into the industry.”

Many companies are developing their own environment where employees are encouraged to think outside the box and to act on innovative ideas. Adobe Chief Strategist and VP of Creativity Mark Randall demonstrated how Adobe inspires corporate imagination and encourages its employees to innovate by enabling entrepreneurship. His examples showed a unique way to move from talk to action.

Clearly, innovation is critical to our industry and we need a powerful forum on the most pressing innovations in semiconductor manufacturing. Where do you go to hear live presentations and chat with the people who are innovators in the industry?

To learn more about shaking up the status quo in semiconductor manufacturing, I encourage you to attend the 25th Annual SEMI Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference (ASMC), May 19-21 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

ASMC continues to fill a critical need for advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes in our industry. The conference provides a venue for industry technologists to network, learn and share knowledge on new and best-method semiconductor manufacturing practices and concepts. The 2014 conference, co-chaired by Israel Ne’eman, Applied Materials, and Oliver Patterson, IBM Microelectronics, highlights technical papers co-authored between device manufacturers, equipment or materials suppliers, and/or academic institutions that demonstrate innovative, practical solutions for advancing semiconductor manufacturing.

ASMC continues to be one of the leading international technical conferences for discussing solutions that improve the semiconductor manufacturing process. For device manufacturers, equipment and materials suppliers, and academics alike, ASMC provides exceptional opportunities for semiconductor professionals to network and learn the latest in the practical application of advanced manufacturing strategies and methodologies.

Keynotes include: “Foundry Outlook” by Dr. Been-Jon Woo, VP, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ltd and “From Germanium, to Gallium Arsenide, to Silicon and Back Again: a Perspective on the Semiconductor Manufacturing Industry” by Dean W. Freeman, VP, Gartner.

The Panel discussion, “25 Years of Semiconductor Manufacturing: Accomplishments, Current Challenges, Future Directions — From the Internet to the Internet of Things” with moderation by Paul Werbaneth, 3D InCites, includes panelists from Applied Materials, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Rochester Institute of Technology, and SEMATECH. Tutorials include: Directed Self Assembly (IBM) and Silicon Photonics (Intel). Technical sessions include: Yield Enhancement, Advanced Metrology, 3D/TSV, Advanced Process Control, Factory Optimization, Defect Inspection, and much more.

Don’t miss the true innovators — attend ASMC. For more information, visit: www.semi.org/asmc2014

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