A closer look at Intel's Chandler upgrade - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

A closer look at Intel's Chandler upgrade

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Michelle Reese covers education for the Tribune and blogs about motherhood and family issues at http://blogs.evtrib.com/evmoms

Michelle Reese covers education for the Tribune and blogs about motherhood and family issues at http://blogs.evtrib.com/evmoms. Contact her at mreese@evtrib.com

Posted: Sunday, February 27, 2011 9:16 am | Updated: 3:41 pm, Sat Dec 22, 2012.

Perhaps I should give my kids a push toward a job in engineering.

OK, so the older two are only 8 and 6 (and the infant’s greatest interest right now is a set of toy keys), but they love to build with LEGOs and create things.

Sounds like engineering, right?

With last week’s announcement from Intel that a new $5 billion chip plant will be built in Chandler came the promise of up to 1,000 permanent new jobs, and thousands more to construct the building.

So I posed the question to Intel: What will these jobs be?

Intel’s Chandler spokeswoman, Dawn Jones, said the “primary” positions will be manufacturing technicians and process engineers.

“(Manufacturing technicians) require associates or bachelor’s degrees in electronics, electrical, chemical, or mechanical engineering, or physics,” she said via e-mail. “(Process engineers) require bachelor’s, master’s or (doctorate degrees)

in electrical, chemical, or mechanical engineering, physics, material science or related fields.”

Intel jobs are open to anyone qualified to apply “worldwide,” Jones wrote.

But being in Arizona appears to help them find applicants.

“We do have a pool of talent here in Arizona, from the state universities, as well as engineers and technicians that may have been laid off during the recent downturn.”

Intel does look for applicants with experience, ”preferably in the semiconductor industry, but those with previous experience working in mechanical or electrical fields such as military or avionics often

do well. We also provide a significant amount of on-the-job training and continuous learning opportunities,” Jones wrote.

That could be good news for graduate students at ASU, where more than 1,300 students are seeking master’s degrees in engineering.

A large number — more than a third — are seeking electrical engineering degrees. A majority are out-of-state residents in that program — 79 percent. Another 25 percent are pursing graduate-level degrees in chemical engineering.

Not that all ASU students stay in state when they are done, but the planned plant provides an attractive reason to stay, said ASU research professor Tim James of the L. William Seidman Research Institute at the W.P. Carey School of Business — perhaps even more so than in recent years.

“One of the things the state suffers from is we tend to lose our graduates quickly. This is one way to retain the graduates in state rather than see them move to the West or East coast. That’s a problem for us,” James said. “Their aspirations for what they want to do often don’t fit with the opportunities available locally … or they just don’t see themselves as being Phoenix metropolitans.”

James said that a few years ago, a group surveyed students in ASU’s Barrett Honors College and found very few — “almost zero” — planned to stay locally.

The jobs that will open with the Intel plant — and the jobs that will be created to support them — may change that.

“I think this is an opportunity — in the context of the number of people graduating — it’s one way the state can start retaining some of its young talent and build on that to build a diversity of employment opportunities,” James said.

In fact, he said, there may be jobs for people with any number of skills that ultimately get created from this.

“People forget, when you start a large factory there are ancillary jobs. You need good quality water and air associated with prefab stuff. You need a clean environment, even more than operating theaters would be,” he said.

James continued: “Intel provides good quality jobs, which is worth remembering.”

In other words, he said, they come with good pay and good benefits, “which is a good thing at the moment.”

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