Oregon and Arizona Technology Economies

Posted on January 8, 2006  Comments (0)

Ore. growing into tech rival, Jane Larson, The Arizona Republic:

The “Silicon Forest,” with barely two-thirds the population of the “Silicon Desert,” surpassed Arizona in 2003 as the nation’s third-largest state for semiconductor manufacturing jobs. The world’s biggest chip manufacturer, California-based Intel Corp., has grown from a few hundred employees at its Oregon outpost in the mid-1970s to become Oregon’s largest private employer.

In Oregon, Intel has three chip-making plants and 15,500 employees. Its Ronler Acres campus in Hillsboro, started in 1994, has become the company’s largest and most complex site, with research into technologies still generations away; an experimental factory dedicated to developing the company’s new manufacturing processes; and a more traditional high-volume manufacturing plant.

The site is so cutting edge that, of the 14 Intel manufacturing plants worldwide, Oregon is where new manufacturing technologies are developed and rolled out to Arizona, New Mexico and other locations…

Mixing researchers, developers and manufacturing technicians in one location has proved powerful. Skywalks connect Ronler Acres’ research lab to its development factory and high-volume plant. That enables the various groups and Intel vendors to work side by side, screening new ideas, ramping them to the point where Intel knows it can produce good yields and then transferring the process to the high-volume factories.

“It’s one of the most amazing facilities anywhere in the world, and the leading research, development and manufacturing site of any semiconductor company,” Bob Baker, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group, told the summit. “It brings together the unique aspects of our path-finding, our research and development and our volume manufacturing capacity.”

Both states still worry about shoring up their kindergarten-through-12th-grade education systems. Arizona, though, has the edge when it comes to engineering schools, the graduates of which feed the industry in both states.

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