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Campus News
     
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: February 17, 2003
Volume 38, Number 14

Intel boosts MTTC with equipment donation

Intel Corp. presented a $17.5 million gift to Next Generation Economy Inc. at UNM’s Manufacturing Training and Technology Center (MTTC) recently. Intel’s donation is 74 pieces of equipment, including 6-inch-semiconductor manufacturing tools that are no longer used at the company’s Rio Rancho plant.

An initial set of donated equipment is expected to be installed at UNM’s MTTC, a South Campus facility for teaching, research and development and manufacturing prototyping. Its semiconductor cleanroom is used to train engineers from UNM and technicians from TVI and other community colleges in semiconductor manufacturing and research.

“Intel has been operating in New Mexico for more than two decades and has had the opportunity to work on a number of community projects, but this donation truly has the potential to change the landscape of the research corridor,” said Bruce Leising, Intel vice president of Technology and Manufacturing. “Assets that no longer are economical for high-output wafer-manufacturing facilities at our Rio Rancho site are state-of- -the-art for MEMS and will provide enormous opportunity for the microelectronics cluster efforts for a long time.”

MEMS refers to microelectromechanical systems: tiny machines that can sense, compute, act and communicate. Also called microsystems or micromachines, MEMS have such widespread applications in transportation, medicine and telecommunications that they are considered the biggest thing since the semiconductor. New Mexico laboratories and local companies see Central New Mexico as a global center for the design and production of microsystems.

“This is a contribution not just to NextGen but to economic development in the state and the region,” said Larry Willard, NextGen chair and UNM Board of Regents' president.

“This is an excellent example of strategic partnering between the private and, ultimately, public sectors,” said John Wood, director of the center. “The equipment strengthens the region’s ability to train engineers and technicians as team members, strengthens NextGen’s ability to compete for funds in emerging technology areas, and strengthens the microsystem cluster’s ability to provide resources for small startups that in turn will catalyze regional economic development.”

Said Joe Cecchi, dean of the UNM School of Engineering, “Not only would this greatly enhance our educational and research programs in MEMS, but it would also allow us to collaborate more extensively with  MEMS companies and further increase our economic development activities.”

NextGen is an economic development group that focuses on industry clusters, including microsystems. Like computer chips, microsystems can be mass-produced at low cost by using photolithography. This $14 billion industry is expected to be a $30 billion industry by 2004.