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America’s Chips: Securing Victory in the Chip War and Boosting Job Opportunities for Americans

America's Chips: Securing Victory in the Chip War and Boosting Job Opportunities for Americans
Photo: DepositPhotos.com

In “Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology,” author Chris Miller asserts that all future wars will be won or lost based on designing, producing, and controlling the technology that powers the world–the microchip. He warns, “The new front on the battlefield is technology, and whoever has the brightest people building the most and the best stuff will win.”

Unfortunately, the US education system is no longer preparing students to take the lead in the world’s high-tech workforce. Experts expect a shortage of 1.4 million US technology workers by 2030 and a shortage of 67,000 in the critical semiconductor or microchip industry. 

“Historically, the United States has not always been a global superpower,” says Mike Ward, CEO of LA Semiconductor and America’s Chips. “In fact, our prominence on the world stage stretches back less than 150 years — a short time in overall human history. Whether or not our influence extends further depends largely on the outcome of the chip war.”

What is the chip war?

In the mid-20th century, US engineers leveraged semiconductors to drive nationwide innovation, productivity, and prosperity. Today, these tiny computer chips control every electronic device, and the world’s superpowers are scrambling to gain the upper hand in the sector.

“Semiconductors have become more valuable than oil and will become even more relevant in a world managed by artificial intelligence,” Ward predicts. “Semiconductors control everything from cell phones to fighter jets, yet today, we continue to outsource a majority share of chip manufacturing to Asia. The chip war is real. The next few years will determine not only world positioning of technology and power, but also our standard of living here in the US.”

Why education matters in the chip war

America’s rise to global prominence began as World War II ended. At that time, the US education system was highly driven to contribute to national security and economic prosperity. US students left schools educated and equipped to produce the world’s most innovative technology.

Less than a century later, the US education system looks extremely different. Chinese universities are set to produce twice the STEM PhDs of US institutions by 2025. In addition, the most recent Program for International Student Assessment shows US Math scores plummeting by 13 points to hit an all-time low. Though China did not participate in this test, in 2018, US students ranked 13th, while China’s students came out on top.

“In today’s schools, both teachers and students come from generations unable to imagine the US as anything but a global superpower,” Ward explains. “Scores indicate that we have become over-confident, content, and complacent. The signs of our decline are evident, and the canary in the coal mine is American education.”

Education is the linchpin determining the future of America’s workforce and its place in global technology. Rather than reforming education, however, the US government has played economic hardball with sanctions and tariffs. Meanwhile, China has invested in developing a top-notch education system.

“Our nation’s culture of education needs a reset and correction,” observes Ward. “It’s more concerned about ensuring our kids feel like they’ve won rather than getting them to put in the work it takes to win. We’re seeing evidence that this is contributing to why we’re not keeping pace with other developed countries.”

How America’s Chips are reversing the trend

The US government recently invested $52 billion to shore up the nation’s semiconductor industry. As CEO of the only 100% USA-owned and operated pure-play semiconductor manufacturer, Ward is planning continued investments into its headquarters in Pocatello, ID, and other facilities in the US. LA Semiconductor has submitted its CHIPS Act pre-proposal for nearly $1 billion of investments and plans to allocate significant funds to education and workforce development

America’s Chips springs largely from this funding and other workforce development activities.  The combination represents a unique partnership between LA Semiconductor and an innovative platform called Heroic Game Day. Together, they are on a mission to leverage semiconductors and other technologies, such as educational gamification and AI, to retain America’s global tech standing.

“Our job in this partnership is to deliver the information that kids need to learn,” explains Ward. “We integrate what we know about the real world with the students’ online world. Industry leaders become mentors, allowing students to stand on the shoulders of the world’s greatest generation of scientists and innovators. We’re leveraging our nation’s current success to ensure continued success.”

Heroic Game Day’s online gamification platform launched in 2021 for a handful of summer enrichment programs in Ohio. Today, over 10,000 students nationwide log on to play.

Heroic Game Day offers a kid-driven, game-based platform that partners with industry players such as LA Semiconductor to equip elementary students with the real-life skills they need to form a robust workforce pipeline. When students play 30 minutes a day, they become proficient in 20 soft skills critical to the US workforce. Data shows they also demonstrate proficiency in their math and reading state tests. In addition, some of these students are learning what it takes to help America win the chip war.

Where most people don’t give a second thought to the semiconductors in their devices and automobiles, first-grade students playing the tech section of the game learn to make them. They first embark on a Minecraft-like mission mining sand. Next, they work together with other students to make their way back to the factory, melt down their sand, and produce silicon.

“Helping kids make these connections as early as first grade means they will be ready to excel in world-changing work when they graduate,” concludes Ward. “As industry leaders, we win and lose daily battles in our boardrooms, but the chip war will ultimately be decided in America’s classrooms.”

Published by: Martin De Juan

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