Thanks to a new Intel-University of Arizona collaboration, Intel employees now have the opportunity to boost their education to help keep Intel the world's biggest chip manufacturer.
"I've always wanted to complete my four-year engineering degree, but kids and a family made it more and more difficult to find the time," said Mike Dokouzian, a facilities manager at Intel's Ocotillo site in Chandler, Ariz., and one of the first students to enroll.
Intel's Fab/Sort Manufacturing College of Engineering – the company's corporate university – and the UA College of Engineering are working together to give Intel employees a distance-learning opportunity to earn UA Bachelor of Science degrees in chemical engineering and materials science and engineering.
The online program allows Intel FSM employees the flexibility to further their education while managing their work and life needs.
"This program enables me to see a path to finishing my degree," said Dokouzian, who has been with Intel for 20 years and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in materials science and engineering.
Dokouzian attended Rutgers University in the early 1980s but did not finish his degree, and in 1992 he graduated from Central New Mexico Community College with an associate degree in electronics engineering technology.
He says the UA-Intel joint program is about reinvention: personal reinvention that parallels the technological reinvention companies such as global employer Intel must achieve to stay ahead of the competition as technology advances.
"This program gives us the ability to go and learn and to reinvent ourselves as individuals," he said. "What got us here is not going to keep us successful going into future."
Admissions standards for Intel employees enrolling in the online distance-learning degree programs are the same as those for any other student applying to the UA College of Engineering, said Jim Baygents, associate dean for academic affairs in the UA College of Engineering.
"Our college mission includes doing world-class research and providing a world-class education," Baygents said. "We have developed 32 online courses for Intel personnel who want to pursue accredited bachelor's degrees in chemical engineering or materials science engineering from the UA."
UA instructors and faculty members deliver courses online to Intel employees around the globe, and Intel instructors teach elective courses developed by the company to complement the 32 online courses.
Intel knows that to maintain its position as the world's leading chip manufacturer, it must have a well-educated workforce with up-to-the-minute skills and knowledge.
"As our company's process technologies become more complex, employee skills will require more innovative thinking and problem solving," said Lalita Rao, director of Intel's Fab/Sort Manufacturing College of Engineering. "This collaboration with UA will offer employees the opportunity to build their skillset and the flexibility to take courses while managing work and personal life needs."
Brian McCarson, an Intel COE faculty member at Intel's Ocotillo site, agrees.
"To stay ahead of the competition we have to be able to solve the problems that no one else has been able to solve," said McCarson, a senior principal engineer and materials science graduate who has been with Intel for 13 years.
"At this site and every Intel site we have to have a small army of some of the best and brightest problem solvers and scientists on the planet," McCarson said. "We have a lot of people who are trying to grow their careers, capabilities and contributions to the company, and this kind of program is critical to enabling our top talent to stay ahead of the competition."
The program originated from a 30-year relationship between Intel and professor Srini Raghavan, a chip fabrication researcher in the UA department of materials science and engineering.
Head of that department is professor Pierre Deymier, director of the UA School of Sustainable Engineered Systems. Deymier pushed for rapid progress in developing the collaboration, and has been forging relationships between UA and Intel since Raghavan first mooted the idea in 2011.
Said Deymier: "The Intel online bachelor's programs in materials science and engineering and in chemical engineering are an excellent example of the spirit of cooperation in the School of Sustainable Engineered Systems."