Technology innovation and talent development are two key factors that contribute to the company’s leading position in the semiconductor assembly industry. We engage in long-term industry-academia collaborations with top universities to enhance our R&D capabilities and develop advanced semiconductor technologies. At the same time, we continue to develop industry talent by offering different industry courses and practical training to bridge skills gap and strengthen industry competitiveness.
ASEH has created key programs like "academia cooperation and corporate internship", "academic research collaboration", and "scholarships" to leverage on the expertise from these academic resources. In 2020, ASEH continued its collaborations with local schools, contributing over US$ 1.6 million, including US$ 1.41 million towards 74 technology research collaborations and US$ 0.06 million for scholarships. We also recruited 638 interns and enrolled 169 students in the semiconductor master's degree program. Nearly 60 schools and research institutions in Taiwan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, etc. were involved in these collaborations.
2020 Accomplishments of Industry-Academia Collaboration Programs
Industry-Academia Research in Automation Technologies for Efficient, Automated Manufacturing
The smart factory concept is an important development at ASEH. Since 2015, our Kaohsiung facility has collaborated with the National Taiwan University, National Cheng Kung University, National Sun Yat-sen University, and National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology on 35 projects to train students on technical and practical skills and conduct research on automation technologies. This year, the research is focused on three major aspects: 1) Manufacturing process enhancement. We incorporate automatic virtual metrology in equipments to effectively reduce the machine testing time and improve capacity utilization. Hence, allowing for flexible and swift adjustments to be made to the manufacturing processes. Manual visual inspection is replaced by defect detection processes that use AI to help improve product quality. 2) Supply chain management. We use algorithms to optimize material allocation and the management of raw material inventory in order to control costs and meet our customers’ needs. 3) Business risk management. We implement layers of cybersecurity to ensure secure data transfers and mitigate leakage risks. We also preempt risks through indepth analysis of public sentiment and early preparation of countermeasures to avoid any disruption to the company’s operation and efficiency.
Advances in the 5G network technology is accelerating ASEH’s smart factory development. In August 2020, the company partnered with Chunghwa Telecom and Qualcomm to build Taiwan’s first smart factory powered by a 5G mmWave private network at our Kaohsiung facility. In recent years, industry-academia have been centered around the use of AI to improve manufacturing operations. To that end, ASEH will continue its focus on industry-academia research in smart manufacturing and the integration of Taiwan’s R&D and technology talent, so as to seize the opportunities for future industry development and exercise Taiwan’s influence in the global semiconductor market.
Semiconductor Packaging Technology Research
Nine R&D projects on semiconductor packaging technologies were presented at the 8th ASE Semiconductor Packaging Technology Industry-Academia Conference. The projects focused on three major areas - packaging process, substrate design and product application, and displayed promising results.
To solve warpage issues in Fan-Out Chip on Substrate (FOCoS) packaging and its end products, we leveraged on our expertise in material science, package structure and heterogeneous integration to solve warpage issues through the use of simulation and prediction modelling tools. Research projects on package substrate design are focused on chip applications in high-performance computing, networking and high-end product requirements. A unique substrate circuit design has been developed to effectively reduce mismatched impedance and improve signal integrity. We have also co-developed an optical inspection system for optical sensor ICs that can quickly and accurately determine component quality and provide simultaneous feedback on component parameters, allowing designers to further optimize their product design.
ASEH has also conducted a study on the absorption and diffusion materials used in optical sensor modules to find ways to improve the light absorption rate through the application of packaging technologies. Big data, cloud computing and high-speed networks are driving exponential growth in the demand for fiber-optic communication. Optical fiber technology reduces signal attenuation and distortion, and when applied on silicon photonic modules, allows for the precision positioning of fiber-optic signals for different product specifications. This development optimizes our manufacturing process and delivers stable and high-speed performance with low-latency.
SPIL, an ASEH subsidiary has been working with top universities on talent development. Currently in its seventh year, the corporate mentoring program is a collaboration between SPIL and the National Chung Hsing University. The program includes a diverse range of activities - Cutting-edge Assembly & Testing Technologies and Human Resource Seminars, Production Line Visits, Mentor-Mentee Lunch Gatherings, Alumni Symposium and Project Competitions. The program enables the company to attract outstanding talent and helps students learn about industry dynamics, explore career options, bridge skills gap and prepare them well to meet workplace challenges. SPIL’s corporate mentoring program has introduced a new model for career guidance that serves as a vigorous and flexible learning platform. In 2020, the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology was invited to participate for the first time, increasing the intensity of the competition. The company recorded participation of 52 students covering 1,040 hours. Monetary rewards were also included to encourage students to participate in activities and establish a tacit understanding of teamwork throughout the project. Students were also given information on opportunities within the assembly and test industry, which together could help the company strengthen its competitive advantage.
Employee education, training and transfer of skills rank highly at USI. To that end, the USI University was established in 2006 to provide free courses covering corporate experiences, management knowledge and the latest technology and industry trends. The USI University actively collaborates with industry and public associations, and universities and provides internally trained instructors to design the courses. Programs offered include 8D (eight disciplines) problem solving and Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) that are helpful to small and medium enterprises in establishing their own procedures. The company also organizes seminars at universities to share the company’s knowledge and research achievements covering topics such as electrical simulation applications in electronic product design and the evolution of the mobile phone antenna. These sessions allow students to learn how theoretical applications are used in the industry to produce substantial results. A total of 21 classes attended by 734 participants were offered in 2020, recording a total participation 2,095 hours. Moving forward, USI University will continue to invest in education and contribute actively to enhancing youth employability.