The New York Times’ John Markoff in May of 2016 wrote an article titled, ‘Moore’s Law Running Out of Room, Tech Looks for a Successor.’ Moore’s Law, named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, posits that the number of transistors on a microchip will approximately double every 18 months. More transistors per chip translates into greater speed and computation performance, for a lower cost. Moore’s Law has long been a guiding tenet for innovation in the high-tech industry. But now, integrated circuit fabrication can no longer keep up with Moore’s exponential rate prediction.
Decades ago, large technology companies supported well-funded research divisions to experiment and innovate for the future. Today, economic realities have changed, and many companies no longer invest heavily in early-stage research. Universities continue to play this role, but they do so often without the near-term focus companies have for bringing products to market. How then can advanced research lead more readily to products? How will the tech sector find a successor to traditional chip technologies? And how to nurture sufficient intellectual talent to design, manufacture, and develop these new technologies?
This is where AIM Photonics Academy came in. AIM Photonics Academy launched in 2016 as the education, workforce development, and roadmap arm of AIM Photonics, one of 14 public-private manufacturing innovation institutes created as part of a federal initiative to revitalize American manufacturing. In 2020, as AIM Photonics Academy's scope of work increased, it became the Knowledge and Innovation for Manufacturing Initiative at MIT.
The Knowledge and Innovation for Manufacturing Initiative's mission is to educate the current and future workforce in integrated photonics – technologies that will lead to the next generation of faster and more power-efficient chips, as well as other areas of advanced manufacturing. The Initiative also leads the creation of a technology roadmap that will guide the $350 billion semiconductor industry in this new direction.
The Initiative's ambition is enormous: to spearhead the educational activities for advanced manufacturing industries, at every level of technical expertise that correlates with the needs of small businesses as well as large enterprises.