By Rick Vanittersum

Digital Divas and Dudes: Empowering Tomorrow’s Semiconductor Workforce

The global chip industry will need an estimated 1 million new workers by 2030 to meet burgeoning demand for jobs in the semiconductor and microelectronics industries. Many potential workers for the jobs of 2030 and beyond are now learning in classrooms or just beginning to explore future career options.

To address the chip industry’s workforce challenge, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is working to build awareness of semiconductor career paths in the state. The aim: grow Michigan’s semiconductor industry by as many as 30,000 semiconductor jobs by 2030. To help achieve this goal, the SEMI Foundation is offering awareness activities and facilitating events that showcase the quality jobs and careers available in the semiconductor industry through its CHIPS in Michigan initiative. This program is part of the SEMI Foundation’s greater Industry Image and Awareness Campaign, which is designed to illuminate and demystify the industry for students and jobseekers. The SEMI Foundation is working in local communities and across states to increase industry awareness and expand the industry’s talent pool.

“The Digital Divas and Digital Dudes programs at Eastern Michigan invited us to support efforts to bring more awareness to underserved high school students,” said Richard Walker, Outreach Consultant for the SEMI Foundation.

Video: Highlights from the Digital Divas and Digital Dudes STEM Conferences

“There’s no guarantee they’re learning about this STEM in their high schools and maybe they have a background where they don’t have access to role models that are in these fields,” said Bia Hamed, Ph.D., Director of K-12 STEM Outreach at Eastern Michigan University’s GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology. “Breakout sessions related to the chip industry and including the buzzword of semiconductors in a program that hosts 600 female students from Southeast Michigan high schools is the way to do it.”

Digital Divas and Dudes: Empowering Tomorrow’s Semiconductor Workforce

In addition to guest speakers and hands-on STEM breakout sessions, the events highlighted the role of Michigan’s semiconductor industry in supporting domestic and global economies.

Students attending Digital Divas and Digital Dudes events also participated in SEMI’s High Tech U in the Classroom program, which uses CircuitScribe and Micro:bit STEM kits supplied through a generous grant from the KLA Foundation. The kits introduce students to basic concepts of circuits and electronics. Students also engaged in a discussion of Roadtrip Nation’s Chip In documentary that follows three young professionals as they travel throughout the U.S. to explore career opportunities and learn more about ways microelectronics shape nearly every aspect of our lives. The documentary was made possible by the SEMI Foundation.

Digital Divas and Dudes: Empowering Tomorrow’s Semiconductor Workforce

As their students took part in hands-on breakout sessions on the EMU campus, educators attended a free professional development workshop that offered resources on semiconductor industry careers and related educational opportunities to share with students. The SEMI Foundation provided the K-12 teachers with curriculum, tools, and resources they can implement in their classrooms to spark students’ excitement to pursue STEM college educations and careers.

The workshop offers teachers a chance to get hands-on with High Tech U STEM kits and teacher resources that connect STEM learning to industry awareness. The session highlights best practices in implementing the SEMI High Tech U kits into the classroom, lesson plans for incorporating semiconductors into existing high school math and science courses, an interactive viewer’s guide for Roadtrip Nation’s Chip In documentary, and SEMI’s online Career Exploration Portal. Resources include a Semiconductor 101 primer on semiconductors, how they are produced, details on the CHIPS and Science Act, and information on current and future job opportunities in the industry.

“The biggest takeaway is knowing that there are free resources for our students,” said Veda Thomas, College and Career Coordinator with Pontiac Academy of Excellence High School in Pontiac, Michigan. “Our students are being exposed to these great opportunities and resources that can help them find job opportunities.”

Digital Divas and Dudes: Empowering Tomorrow’s Semiconductor Workforce

Each educator at the workshop received a free High Tech U in the Classroom kit, free lesson plans for the kits, and a link to request additional kits for their classroom. The event was so successful that 835 kits were ordered for more than 2,100 students whose educators attended Digital Divas and Digital Dudes.

“We are thrilled that our SEMI Foundation resources are so impactful,” said Rick VanIttersum, Program Manager of the SEMI Career and Apprenticeship Network (SCAN) in Michigan. “There is a huge effort right now with the CHIPS and Science Act to increase awareness of this industry. We are spreading that message, working to let students and educators know that semiconductors are important, that the devices they power can change the world, and that there are so many good jobs in the industry.”

Events like Digital Divas and Digital Dudes and SEMI High Tech U in the Classroom are examples of the programming the SEMI Career and Apprenticeship Network team offers in Michigan as part of the CHIPS in Michigan program. Other offerings include:

SEMI Stories with Tiggbee: These engaging video events integrate industry into the classroom. The Tiggbee platform allows professionals from diverse backgrounds to tell their stories and connect with students. Following are a few examples.

Digital Divas and Dudes: Empowering Tomorrow’s Semiconductor Workforce

Digital Divas and Dudes: Empowering Tomorrow’s Semiconductor Workforce

Digital Divas and Dudes: Empowering Tomorrow’s Semiconductor Workforce

Chip In Documentary Dialogues: Companies and educational institutions can host or sponsor an interactive screening of the Chip In documentary. See the trailer here.

On-Campus Semiconductor Days: Companies can meet students where they are! On-campus Semiconductor Days open the door to industry for students across the state, helping them learn about emerging careers, meet company representatives and find internships, or jobs. Activities can include resume reviews, speed mentoring, and job fairs.

Field Trips and Career Awareness Events: Last Fall, SCAN Michigan showcased careers in the semiconductor industry at four regional MiCareerQuest and related career exploration events attended by more than 18,000 middle and high school students. These trips and events connect students to companies and opportunities in their own backyards. Our team can connect member companies and educational partners to middle and high school students, creating early industry awareness and affinity.

Digital Divas and Dudes: Empowering Tomorrow’s Semiconductor Workforce

To learn more about CHIPS in Michigan, the SEMI Foundation’s Industry Image and Awareness Campaign, or educator resources, please contact Rick VanIttersum at

Rick VanIttersum is Program Manager in Michigan for the SEMI Career and Apprenticeship Network.

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