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Interdisciplinarity through Microelectronics Reliability Course

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2020 Fall ASEE Mid-Atlantic Section Meeting


Virtual (hosted by Stevens Institute of Technology)

Publication Date

November 7, 2020

Start Date

November 7, 2020

End Date

November 7, 2020

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Ping-Chuan Wang State University of New York at New Paltz

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Dr. Ping-Chuan Wang is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Engineering Programs at the State University of New York at New Paltz (SUNY New Paltz). He received his BS in Chemistry from National Tsing-Hua University in Taiwan in 1990 and MS and Eng.Sci.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Columbia University in 1995 and 1997, respectively. Subsequently he joined IBM Microelectronics as an R&D scientist/engineer for a 21-year career in the microelectronics industry to develop advanced semiconductor technologies. He started the teaching endeavor at SUNY New Paltz in 2018 with expertise in materials science and solid mechanics, as well as research interests in stress-induced phenomena in engineering materials, microelectronics reliability and additive manufacturing of metals. He has over 50 technical publications and many US Patents related to microelectronics technologies.

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As boundaries between engineering disciplines continue to blur, providing platforms for students to interact and communicate across disciplines becomes ever more beneficial and urgent. As an engineering department in a liberal art college, Division of Engineering Programs at SUNY New Paltz hosts EE, CE and ME programs and continues to leverage its technical diversity to promote and prioritize interdisciplinary learning experience. As a recent example, Microelectronics Reliability was successfully offered as a one-semester 500-level professional elective in spring 2020 to EE and ME undergraduates and graduates. Note that microelectronics is typically regarded as a field for EE majors, while other engineering majors assume it irrelevant. This course was designed to demonstrate that this industry is a tremendously successful example of interdisciplinary collaboration with excellent employment opportunities across several engineering disciplines. Primary learning objectives include applying fundamental science and engineering principles to solve practical multidiscipline problems, as well as collaborating and communicating proficiently across different engineering majors. With a total of 17 EE and ME students, the lectures were roughly categorized into three modules, including (1) background materials, (2) transistor reliability mechanisms, and (3) interconnect reliability mechanisms. In Module 1, introductory-level topics on transistor physics/operations and material science/mechanics were presented by EE and ME students, respectively, to promote cross-pollination and align the required technical background. In Module 2, transistor degradation mechanisms were discussed, including hot carrier injection, gate dielectrics integrity, and their implication on circuit performance. Module 3 covered reliability concerns in metal wirings and surrounding dielectrics, including electromigration and mechanical stress induced voiding and fracture. Projects were subsequently assigned for data analysis, degradation modeling, lifetime projection and reporting. In this paper, we will illustrate the strategies adopted to promote interdisciplinary learning, including demonstrating relevance, sharing expertise cross-discipline, adequately adjusting scientific rigor in communication, and practical team projects. Effectiveness will be demonstrated by learning outcomes and survey. Lessons learned and plans for future improvement will also be discussed.

Wang, P. (2020, November), Interdisciplinarity through Microelectronics Reliability Course Paper presented at 2020 Fall ASEE Mid-Atlantic Section Meeting, Virtual (hosted by Stevens Institute of Technology).

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