Since its inception as an identifiable specialty in the late 1970s, academic chemical engineering research in microelectronics has grown to the point where it produces roughly one quarter of all senior technical staff for a typical new fabrication plant. No other engineering discipline contributes a larger fraction. Yet in terms of faculty numbers, the specialty has stabilized over the past few years. Moreover, the explosive growth of the microelectronics industry over the past several decades, driven by sustained power-law improvements in device performance, will face severe challenges over the next decade. How should the chemical engineering research community position itself? This article seeks to answer that question using two metaphors for the specialty: the extension ladder and the growing, maturing person. We suggest that this impending storm can be weathered with equanimity, but only if the community remains faithful to continuing development of its unique integrative perspective and to imparting that perspective to its student graduates. We then offer some suggestions for how to develop and impart this perspective, accounting for circumstances unique to the study of microelectronic processing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)