Harz University of Applied Sciences – as one of the first educational facilities in Saxony-Anhalt – has received a donation from American semiconductor manufacturer Intel, with 95,000 euros provided to the campus in Wernigerode to integrate the special requirements for the highly precise production of semiconductors into the curriculum. The Smart Automation Bachelor Degree Programme of the Faculty of Automation and Computer Science will provide the necessary education to develop and operate automated, resource-efficient production processes. This donation from Intel will be used to recreate the conditions of a cleanroom environment and to practise semi-automated “wafer handling”. Wafers refer to thin storage discs, usually made from silicon, that serve as a processed starting material for microchip production. Thousands of new jobs in the semiconductor industry are expected in Saxony-Anhalt with the construction of the new Intel plant in Magdeburg.
“Practical experience is key to educating future semiconductor professionals,” says Bernd Holthaus, HR Director at Intel Magdeburg. “This is why we’re so excited that Intel is supporting Harz University of Applied Sciences in the construction of new learning environments and infrastructure, which creates the ideal conditions for learning.”
“Wafers have to be entirely free of dust and dirt so that they can be processed into perfect microchips,” explains Dr René Schenkendorf. “Our students will now have the opportunity to learn about how to handle these thin discs in a cleanroom, either by using actual lab equipment or through virtual environments.” The coordinator of the Smart Automation Degree Programme teaches in the fields of Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0, and worked with colleagues from related fields to devise the first ideas for implementing the new learning environments. “I think that the study programme’s objectives, the faculty’s research and educational profile, and direct communication with university management itself made an impact on Intel,” says Schenkendorf, explaining the partnership with the semiconductor manufacturer.
Learning how to work in cleanroom environments, and with sensitive materials, is crucial not only in the field of semiconductor manufacturing, but also in medical technology, pharmaceuticals, and food production, among others.
The first steps for modernising the labs began in March, and more lab equipment is currently being procured. Adjustments are being made to the Smart Automation Bachelor Study Programme in parallel to this to make the programme more suitable for the expanded lab services and equipment. Once everything is complete, interested pupils will also have the opportunity to become acquainted with the new learning environments and experiment with them themselves.
Smart Automation starts every year during the winter semester. Applications are due by 31 August. The deadline for international applicants via uni-assist is 15 July. The language of instruction of this programme is German. All information on the curriculum can be found here.