TECHCON 2023: 25 years of Innovation, Collaboration, and Hiring

-Image Credit: SRC

SRC TECHCON 2023, held September 10-12, 2023 in Austin, Texas, was a resounding success! This year we celebrated our 25th TECHCON event by bringing together industry and academia to exchange ideas, build real-world relationships, and to secure industry jobs for our graduating SRC Research Scholars. The fun started with a party Sunday night that focused on the Scholars. Over 180 SRC-funded Research Scholars, selected from nearly 500 applicants, were invited to a dinner and an open bar with a DJ and yard games like jumbo Jenga and cornhole, ending with a sweet ice cream treat. The student population is quite diverse: 50% of the students are women or under-represented minorities, and the student presenters include undergrads, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers. 

- Image Credit: SRC

Monday morning the conference kicked off in style with a Keynote by Dr. Laurie Locascio, Undersecretary of Commerce and Director of NIST. SRC was delighted to have Dr. Locascio talk about how the CHIPS Act can take the SRC R&D and workforce initiatives to the next level. Dr. Locascio outlined the history of American “big bets” such as the Moon Shot in 1961 and the Human Genome Project in 1990. The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 is another big bet that will drive incredible investment and innovations for semiconductors. The CHIPS Act incentives program is creating new manufacturing facilities and capabilities that will create between 90-180k new jobs. For more than 40 years, SRC has graduated over 14,000 industry-trained engineers, scientists, chemists, physicists, and mathematicians with over 2 billion dollars in industry-relevant funded research projects. In fact, the SRC Talent Factory has been successful in annually preparing approximately 20% of semiconductor PhD candidates in the United States. We agree with Dr. Locascio that the semiconductor industry is "The most exciting field to be in at this moment in time!”

-Image Credit: SRC

After her presentation, she was able to meet with several SRC Research Scholars to get a sample of the cutting-edge research happening across the nation. Osakpolo "Faith" Isowamwen, a Ph.D. candidate advised by Professor Selma Mededovic at Clarkson University, presented her work on PFAS abatement using plasma and surfactants; work that is crucial to the industry as legislation surrounding PFAS gains momentum. Damla Dimlioglu, who is pursuing her Ph.D. at Cornell University, provided a first-ever demonstration of a GaN mmWave technology that may help realize the full potential of 5G+ networks. Hannah Margavio, Ph.D. candidate at NC State, presented her work on tungsten area selective deposition while exploring the twisty path that her research has taken. Dr. Locascio remarked that "Eureka!" is rarely a clear moment in time, but only reveals itself over time through disciplined imagination. Camryn Quan, an ECE master’s student at Georgia Tech, presented a poster on her undergraduate 5G communication studies, using a Rotman lens to address complications imposed by non-line-of-sight signal propagation in real-world environments. Luke Hanks, pursuing his bachelor's in ECE at Georgia Tech, presented his poster on a promising Gate-All-Around Field-Effect-Transistor as an alternative to commercial FinFET devices. Though she was only able to meet with a handful of the 188 student presenters, Dr. Locascio was impressed with the variety and diversity of the research being conducted by SRC Research Scholars.

-Image Credit: SRC

Other highlights of the event were the technical sessions, featuring 160 SRC Research Scholar presentations and/or posters, plus 28 bachelor’s students. Students and industry alike were excited to attend the panel session on Tuesday featuring career perspectives from SRC Research Scholar alumni who have obtained positions at SRC member companies in the last 5 years. This session delved into topics such as how to attract recent grads into the industry and how to retain them. This was followed on Tuesday evening by Career Connections, a unique event that allowed nearly two hundred students to connect with both technical staff and company recruiters. This career fair benefits members through exclusive and high-level conversation and collaboration and lays the foundation for future career connections. In fact, more than one SRC Research Scholar alumni attended to represent their member company this year!

prof chowdhury Image Credit: Virginia Hernandez Photography

Monday night’s banquet was a great celebration of the excellence that abounds in our community. We honored the recipients of the SRC awards programs. More information can be found on our site or in the press release. The conference closed on Tuesday evening with the presentation of the TECHCON 2023 Top 10 Best Student Presenter Awards and the TECHCON 2023 Top 3 Undergraduate Awards. Congratulations to all the winners!

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