ISU Headlines

AMIS CTO Stoner, ISU President Vailas to speak at AMIS/ISU Research Symposium

Posted October 19, 2007

Jon Stoner, AMI Semiconductor’s chief technology officer, and Arthur C. Vailas, Ph.D., president of Idaho State University, will underscore the value and potential for collaboration between higher education and private industry when they speak at the Third Annual Idaho State University/AMI Semiconductor Research Symposium on Friday, Oct. 26.

AMIS and ISU, respectively, are the largest private and public employers in Bannock County. Stoner and Vailas will be keynote speakers at the ISU Rendezvous Complex’s conference suite, where the symposium will run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. This year’s theme is “Forging Innovative Academic/Industrial Partnerships.” The executives will make their presentations at the beginning of the symposium.

“It’s an honor that leaders of AMIS and ISU will make presentations at the symposium,” said Robert Holman, Ph.D., event organizer and ISU chemistry department chairman. “It shows how important both CTO Stoner and President Vailas think the potential for more collaboration is between these two entities.”

AMIS designs and fabricates customized microchips for the automotive, medical, industrial, defense and aerospace industries. Its world headquarters is in Pocatello.

Following comments by Stoner and Vailas, two scientists from AMIS and two from ISU will make presentations. The event also will feature about 30 research poster sessions by AMIS scientists and engineers and ISU chemistry, physics, Idaho Accelerator Center and engineering faculty and students.

Holman said he originally helped organize the symposium for two major reasons:

• To help establish a venue for students to display their research results.

• To provide a forum of idea interchange between scientists and engineers at ISU and AMIS.

The symposium has helped create greater dialog between AMIS and ISU.

“AMIS now knows what we’re doing at ISU and where we overlap in intellectual pursuit,” Holman said. “Particularly in engineering, physics and chemistry there have been opportunities for collaboration. There has been a lot more dissemination of information.”

Bruce Greenwood, AMIS engineer and symposium organizer, said the symposium has created a lot more informal collaboration, and some formal agreements.

“It has been good to see our joint work in organic solar cells become a well-funded research project,” Greenwood said. “Continuing to grow our relationship will give more opportunities for future research projects. The next step will be turning these into economic benefits for the region.”

Collaborative efforts by the two entities have yielded large dividends, as evidenced by a $440,000 Department of Energy Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DOE EPSCoR) grant extension ISU received this year. The funding is part of a three-year award that will total about $1.3 million. It continues funding from a previous three-year $1 million EPSCoR grant undertaken by ISU and other Idaho research institutions, including Boise State University and the University of Idaho.

The EPSCoR grant’s principle investigator is Rene Rodriguez.  The Idaho institutions received the grant in part because of results obtained in a study done at ISU that was funded from a $50,000 grant from AMIS. Researchers from ISU used the results of the AMIS-funded grant when applying for EPSCoR grant and were successful receiving funding.

The AMIS/ISU efforts of collaboration have been fruitful in less obvious ways as well, Holman said. For instance, Holman said he knows of three new chemistry majors at ISU who decided on pursuing their major after participating in an AMIS/ISU Research Symposium.

“Attending the research symposium really swayed the students into choosing their major because the symposium demonstrated what they could accomplish with a chemistry degree,” Holman said.