Samsung’s $3.7 million investment in UT Austin and $1.1 million investment in Texas A&M University supports the development of Texan human capital, aligning with goals set during the US-ROK Summit in April 2023.
The CHIPS and Science Act & Samsung’s Recent Partnerships with Texas Universities
The CHIPS and Science Act has resulted in around 60 new domestic projects worth over $210 billion nationwide. More specifically, $61 billion of that total is concentrated in Texas, with six projects estimated to generate over 8,000 jobs. It is expected that even more interest from companies will follow, buoyed by Governor Greg Abbott’s recent signing of the Texas CHIPS Act.
One of the companies at the forefront of this investment is the South Korean company Samsung, which announced the development of an advanced semiconductor fab site in Taylor, Texas – the largest-ever investment by the company in the United States. To staff this factory and address the growing US labor market gap, Samsung has recently invested $3.7 million in the University of Texas, Austin (UT Austin) and $1 million in Texas A&M University to increase the number of students studying and pursuing careers in chip manufacturing. This funding also supports research and development, with Samsung aiming to position Texas “as a leader in the burgeoning US semiconductor industry.”
Facilitating the Texas Talent Pipeline
The primary issue the US semiconductor industry faces is a substantial shortage of skilled labor, making it challenging for companies like Samsung to expand their production capabilities in the country. This is prevalent in Arizona, where the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has had to delay its chip production to 2025 due to the lack of a skilled labor force. Such frustration has even motivated TSMC to look elsewhere in places such as Japan.
To prevent such problems at Samsung’s factory in Taylor and encourage the company’s continued interest in the US market, politicians and industry leaders have made it a priority to bridge the labor gap through Samsung’s collaboration with UT Austin and Texas A&M University. The partnerships will support research centers and create workforce development programs to construct a career pipeline for those interested in the semiconductor sector. Increased training and research ensure Texas can create high-skilled jobs and strengthen the chip industry in the state.
Implications on a National and Transnational Level
These fresh investments will bolster economic relations and cooperation, key objectives of the US-Republic of Korea (ROK) summit this spring. More specifically, local advancements represent strides in “friend-shoring,” which prioritizes manufacturing and sourcing from allies over politically contentious nations. Integrating supply chains and fostering closer collaboration in crucial technology sectors can only occur if allies have the domestic capacity to act as productive locations for those operations. Samsung’s investments in UT Austin and Texas A&M University are critical in ensuring the United States has that capacity.
Likewise, Samsung’s investment in both Texas universities aligns with the broader US-Korea STEM Education Initiative. This initiative aims to foster innovation and educational exchange between the two nations in critical STEM fields. Thus, these partnerships forged by Samsung not only bolster STEM education through supporting research centers and creating scholarships, but they also represent the broad commitment of both the United States and South Korea to building a well-prepared and highly skilled transnational labor force.
SeungHwan (Shane) Kim is a Young Professional at the East-West Center in Washington. He is a graduate student at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, where he is focusing on security and statecraft in the Indo-Pacific region.
Matthew Willis is a Young Professional at the East-West Center in Washington. He is an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in International Relations, Economics, Government, and East Asian Studies.