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Bridging the 'knowing-doing' gap in VLSI

Posted: 30 Nov 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CDNLive! University Conference  VLSI education  semiconductor industry 

A panel of industry and university veterans gathered at the Cadence CDNLive! University Conference on 18 Nov. 2010 to deliberate on how to improve the quality of VLSI education in Indian engineering institutes at the Graduate and Post Graduate level.

In his opening remarks at the panel discussion titled "Forging a win-win Industry-Academia collaboration in VLSI education," C.P. Ravikumar, panel moderator and director of University Relations, TI said, "The semiconductor industry moves at a much faster pace than the academia can possibly catch up. The depth and breadth of knowledge in this area has been phenomenal. The gap therefore is bound to exist and we have to do a lot in order to bridge that gap."

With varied industry expectations from the academia, there was a "need to have an agreement on what needs to be included in VLSI education," according to Ravikumar, referring to the stress on fundamentals vs. skills acquired while using tools; relevance of silicon experience vs. actual process of fabricating a chip; levels of abstraction; and focus of VLSI education at the graduate vs. post graduate level.

University woes

NIST Behrampur University professor, A.K. Panda blamed the lacuna on the lack of information about the semiconductor industry, untrained faculty, disparity in the syllabus and the cost of VLSI tools. Panda touched upon the example of the IT industry and its initiatives in reaching out to the faculty members with training programmes such as Wipro Mission 10X that trained 10,000 faculty members in 3 years.

Panda said "The IT industry realised that if the faculty was trained, the students would be trained automatically. So the semiconductor industry must also do something similar through VLSI society of India or ISA." He urged the Indian Semiconductor Association (ISA) or VLSI society of India to introduce VLSI certification courses that were on par with courses such as SCJP, CCNA and .NET for IT students. He chided the industry for not having a suitable recruitment plan. "Can the semiconductor industry recruit the students before the IT industry," was Panda's bold question to the industry representatives.

Industry views

K Krishna Moorthy, managing director, National Semiconductor India Design Centre retorted saying "VLSI is not something you can learn and practise as easily as a .NET. It's slightly different in terms of what's required. It takes about 10 years to say that you are a good chip designer. It's a long haul."

Moorthy provided an example of how National Semiconductor (National) with partners such as Sun Microsystems and Cadence helped IIT-Kharagpur to set up an advanced VLSI lab. He praised IIT-Kharagpur for leap-frogging and creating the "world's largest" VLSI Consortium where students had designed and taped-out Silicon with a success rate of 85 per cent.

 CDNLive University Conference: Panel discussion

Left to right: C P Ravikumar, K Krishna Moorthy, Ajit Kumar Panda, KRK Rao and R Parthasarathy.

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