WCC launching semiconductor technician program as part of Michigan STAR initiative

May 16, 2023 Fran LeFort

KLA signing ceremony

Representatives at the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing for the Michigan STAR initiative included (from left) WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca, University of Michigan Vice President of Government Relations Chris Kolb, Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO Quentin Messer, IMEC CEO Luc Van den hove, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, KLA CEO Rick Wallace, U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell, U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin and General Motors Director of the Vehicle Systems Research Lab Paul Krajewski. 


Washtenaw Community College will launch a new semiconductor technician training program to advance the electrification of the automotive industry.

WCC’s new short-term program will launch over the next year in partnership with the Michigan Semiconductor Talent and Automotive Research (STAR) initiative announced today by KLA Corporation (NASDAQ: KLAC) and imec, the Belgium-based global R&D hub uniting key players in the semiconductor industry.

Dr. Bellanca signing MOUThe goal of the Michigan STAR initiative – the first of the regional efforts to be formally announced – is to establish a center of excellence (COE) in the state, focusing on developing the talent base and infrastructure necessary to accelerate advanced semiconductor applications for electrification and autonomous mobility and move the automotive industry forward.

WCC’s program will train workers to support the manufacturing of electronic semiconductor chips, meeting a critical need for these new high-demand jobs and filling a valuable part of the ecosystem talent pipeline. Michigan’s semiconductor workforce ranks among the top 10 in the nation, with job growth projected to grow by at least 11% in the next five years, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

Semiconductor technicians support the manufacturing process, loading material into furnaces, loading individual segments into crystal growing chambers, monitoring controls and utilizing equipment to form circuitry and change properties.

“One of the most important jobs we have as a community college is to listen to industry partners to understand talent needs and then customize programs to quickly train the current and future workforce,” said WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca. “We stand ready to provide the training and education required to deepen our state’s talent pool with well-qualified technicians to support chip production.”

WCC is already deeply steeped in preparing students for roles in the EV ecosystem and future mobility jobs through partnership as the only community college in the Center for Connected and Automated (CCAT) Transportation

At any given time, more than 1,000 WCC students are enrolled in more than 60 automotive, advanced manufacturing, information and cybersecurity technology career pathways and courses, preparing for entry-level jobs, building on existing skills or in preparation to transfer to obtain a higher-level degree and work in mobility-related occupations.

The MOU announced today by KLA and imec establishes a center of excellence (COE) in Michigan to formalize support for the development of the semiconductor industry workforce as well as the advancement of autonomous automotive solutions and electric vehicle research. Other founding partners include General Motors, the University of Michigan and MEDC. Specifically, the Michigan center intends to focus on:  

  • Accelerating fundamental and advanced research for vehicle electrification and autonomous automotive solutions;
  • Developing and translating of innovations in vehicle electrification and autonomous automotive technologies;
  • Collaborating with learning institutions, including K-12 and vocational schools, community colleges, four-year colleges and research universities, to enable a Midwest-based skilled talent pipeline;
  • Training and re-training programs to prepare the current workforce for modern chip manufacturing and assembly roles; and
  • Creating a physical collaboration space, laboratory and training spaces, and incubator funding for related startups.

This initiative is designed to connect automotive, semiconductor and innovation research initiatives in Europe (Belgium), United States (Michigan) and Asia (Japan). Each partner will bring relevant expertise to identify and manage programs aligned to the automotive industry, as well as talent development and recruitment.

Michigan is recognized globally as a hub for industry and innovation with a robust manufacturing, research and education infrastructure, making it a natural choice for the STAR initiative’s North American research center location. In addition to KLA, imec and founding members, additional organizations are expected to join as the program matures. 


Tags: Automotive, EV, Industry, Semiconductor, Workforce Development, Workforce Training