Wolfspeed and NC A&T University to establish R&D facility
Company expands partnership with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to bolster SiC advances
Wolfspeed and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University have announced their intent to apply for CHIPS and Science Act funding to build a new research and development facility on the North Carolina A&T campus.
The R&D facility will be focused on SiC. Wolfspeed and A&T intend to submit the project for federal investment as part of the CHIPS and Science Act when the Notice of Funding Opportunity for R&D facilities is released this autumn.
“Wolfspeed has been working with North Carolina A&T to develop a workforce of the future, and we are excited to expand that partnership to develop the technology of the future,” said Gregg Lowe, president and CEO of Wolfspeed. “The R&D facility will enable the next generation of innovators to explore new processes, applications and breakthrough advancements to support the global transition from silicon to SiC technology and achieve new levels of sustainability and energy efficiency across a variety of industries.”
The announcement was made at an event with President Joe Biden at Wolfspeed’s headquarters in Durham, NC, and the R&D facility is intended to augment the company’s establishment of the John Palmour Manufacturing Center for SiC, the world’s largest SiC crystal growth facility, currently under construction in Siler City, North Carolina.
Phase one construction is anticipated to be completed in 2024 and, upon completion of the full build out and combined with the company’s currently ongoing materials expansion at its Durham headquarters, will increase material production for Wolfspeed more than 10x and create 1,800 new jobs. The facility will supply 200mm SiC wafers to Wolfspeed’s Mohawk Valley Fab, which opened last year in New York.
“As one of the top three public research universities in North Carolina and the nation’s largest HBCU [historically Black college or university], we are keenly interested in the future of the semiconductor chip industry in our state,” said Chancellor Martin. “As a research and education partner with Wolfspeed, we bring deep academic and scientific strengths in STEM disciplines to our collaboration, as well as the fact that we produce more Black engineers than any university in the nation. This new facility will integrate our research and development interests toward major economic and social impact, not just in North Carolina, but globally. The possibilities are tremendously exciting.”
Wolfspeed has recognised A&T, one of the nation’s leading engineering institutions, as a critical component of the company’s talent development strategy. In 2020, Wolfspeed committed $4 million over five years to the HBCU, the single largest donation in the university’s history at the time, to create the Wolfspeed Endowed Scholars Program. In September 2022, the two entities announced a partnership to develop a comprehensive education and training curricula, including undergraduate and graduate credentials in SiC semiconductor manufacturing, as well as training and career advancement programs for existing semiconductor manufacturing workers.
To further support Wolfspeed’s growing talent needs, the company is working with several schools within North Carolina’s community college system to develop the skills required for its advanced manufacturing needs. This includes apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities, customised training curricula, career and college promise pathways for high school students, and work-based learning programs.