About $3 million in total is to be doled out to Oregon higher education for research into semiconductor, mass timber and smart grid technologies.

Monday, May 15, 2023

By:  Jules Rogers

Portland Tribune

About $3 million total in grant money is about to be doled out to Oregon higher education for research into semiconductor, mass timber and smart grid technologies.

Authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is awarding two-year regional innovation engines grants of $1 million each to the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and Portland State University, as of May 11. 

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden co-chaired an Oregon task force on semiconductor competitiveness, and was a key writer in the CHIPS act.

“These competitive grants awarded to these university researchers in our state demonstrate clearly how Oregon combines world-class science with cutting-edge opportunities in semiconductors, mass timber and smart grid technologies,” Wyden said. “That adds up to a well-deserved triple crown of success for OSU, the U-of-O and PSU that will generate good-paying jobs in our state as well as continued economic growth in rural, urban and suburban communities.”

Nationally, more than 40 teams were awarded with the $1 million NSF grants for two years. The next round of grants is anticipated in the fall, and is slated to provide up to $160 million for up to 10 years to award recipients.

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici also helped support the shaping of the CHIPS act in her role as senior leader of the House Committees on Education and the Workforce and Science, Space and Technology.

“I am thrilled to see these grants awarded to advance progress in mass timber, semiconductor, and smart grid technologies,” Bonamici said. “Oregon’s public universities are critical to our country’s scientific developments and are an engine of research and innovation. This research by Oregon State, the University of Oregon, and Portland State University will help create good family-wage jobs in our state and further our just transition to a green economy.”

PSU’s grant is slated toward leading a team of five universities, two national labs, six private industry organizations and public sector institutions on working toward making a smart electrical grid.

This project is intended to identify obstacles to smart grid growth, develop plans through academic research, strategic investment, workforce training and collaboration.

“I am pleased that funding from the CHIPS and Science Act is reaching our universities,” U.S. Rep Earl Blumenauer said. “These grants are supporting critical Oregon industries, with positive economic and social benefits for our communities. I look forward to seeing results in the years to come.”

UO’s grant is slated to go toward leading a team with OSU, Washington State University and over 25 other organizations to coordinate research and education innovations in construction, engineering and mass timber architecture; manufacturing and forest management; and addressing social and environmental challenges in housing, workforce development, equity and natural resource stewardship.

“We are grateful for this NSF grant which will allow the University of Oregon to partner in unique ways with universities, industry, government, non-profits, national labs, and others to innovate in sustainable mass timber technologies,” said UO Interim President Jamie Moffitt. “This work will benefit regional economies, accelerate technological development, address social challenges, improve the United States’ global competitiveness, and create local, high-wage jobs.”

OSU’s grant is intended to advance semiconductor technologies and workforce development in the Pacific Northwest, in a partnership with the University of Washington, Boise State University, Hillsboro, the Oregon Business Council and over 20 more partners.

“Our team and the entire Oregon State research community are ecstatic over the opportunity to help create the kind of impact this NSF Engine project makes possible,” said Greg Herman, OSU professor of chemical engineering. “We’re guided by a vision to develop a regional innovation ecosystem for the semiconductor industry, one that expands discovery and entrepreneurship and creates training programs to build a diverse, top-tier workforce. This partnership with other major research universities and industry, government and national laboratories for economic development is a truly historic and powerful collaboration.”