Enhancing Microfabrication Education and Industry Readiness Leveraging the University of New Mexico’s Manufacturing Training and Technology Center Cleanroom Infrastructure

M.W. Pleil, N. Jackson
University of New Mexico,
United States

Keywords: Microfabrication Education, Cleanroom Training, Technical Workforce Development, microfabrication Courses, Hands-on cleanroom Laboratory Experience


Abstract The Manufacturing Training and Technology Center (MTTC) at the University of New Mexico (UNM) stands at the forefront of technical education and hands-on training in the growing field of microfabrication. This poster presentation delineates the pivotal role of the MTTC’s cleanroom infrastructure in educating community college technicians, transfer students, and faculty, while concurrently providing an immersive learning environment for university undergraduates and graduates. Backed by state funding, nonprofit support, industry partnerships, and National Science Foundation (NSF) grants, the MTTC is a cornerstone in cultivating future experts through its advanced facilities, adept staffing, comprehensive educational materials, and a spectrum of courses. The center’s strategy for imparting knowledge involves a series of educator professional development activities, undergraduate technician research experiences, and a range of several university courses. The staffing matrix includes faculty, technicians, process engineers, and undergraduate and graduate assistants, forming an interdisciplinary team dedicated to student development and industry readiness. The MTTC infrastructure enabled the development of over 50 online educational modules that include instructor and student guides, presentations, assessments, and activities. Established UNM coursework including three undergraduate concentration courses on Fabrication Fundamentals, Design, and Advanced Design and Fabrication, have proven instrumental in students' technical training. Concurrently, innovative courses are under development: an undergraduate freshman level course introducing semiconductor and microsystem fundamentals, and two advanced graduate courses simulating a process fabrication industry internship. These courses are designed to furnish students with an understanding of microfabrication techniques, cleanroom operations, and industry standards, alongside valuable lab experience. At the heart of our educational methodology are interactive, practical activities that provide students with an immersive introduction to cleanroom safety, standard operating procedures, and the intricacies of fabrication. This hands-on approach is exemplified by guiding participants to construct a working microsystems pressure sensor. Through this process, students acquire genuine microfabrication experience, engaging directly with essential practices such as photolithography, silicon oxidation, and both wet and dry etching techniques. Additionally, they develop proficiency in sputter deposition and metrology, encompassing the use of thin film, probe, and scanning electron microscopy techniques. Advanced topics offer students the opportunity to dig deeper into additional areas such as the fabrication and design of thermal actuators, micro-fluidic channels, micro-needles, and diodes, further broadening their industry readiness. These topics are explored according to participant experience levels, ensuring both foundational knowledge for newcomers and intricate understanding for advanced learners. Through this multifaceted educational paradigm, the MTTC is committed to molding adept, industry-ready professionals. By integrating theoretical knowledge with practical lab work, and emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of microfabrication, the MTTC effectively bridges the gap between academic training and industry needs, thereby fostering the next generation of technical innovators.