Mindanao gears up as PHL electronics powerhouse

The country’s science leaders expressed optimism that Mindanao will soon be a powerhouse of expertise in electronics as the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) becomes a training hub of integrated circuit (IC) designers.

Executive Director Dr. Enrico C. Paringit of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) called on the electronics industry players to train their sights in Mindanao for experts in IC design as MSU-IIT continues to produce highly trained and knowledgeable engineers in the said field.

“Mindanao is not only the land of promise but of promising engineers in the field of electronics. The crop of engineers that MSU-IIT produced under our research programs is on a par with their peers elsewhere in the country and may even be better,” he said.

MSU-IIT is on its third year of implementing the “µC-IC: Design of Microprocessor Integrated with Energy Harvesting and Power Management” program that aimed to design and fabricate a customized microcontroller IC chip that can harvest energy from ambient sources and perform vital functions for smart buildings, smart farming, risk reduction control and industrial applications, among others.

Paringit expressed optimism that the program did not only produce good design but better IC designers.

MSU-IIT Engr. Allenn Lowaton, program leader of the µC-IC, said the program was driven with their desire to cultivate microelectronics awareness in Mindanao by designing IC chips.

“We want to be pioneers of R&D [research and development] in the electronics field by not only delving into designing and fabrication of IC chips but also by preparing the needed human resource for sustainability,” he explained.

Taking off last March 2017, the first MSU-IIT designed chips that were fabricated in Taiwan and China have been all executed and are scheduled for testing from April to May this year, while the second chip fabrications are targeted between August and September this year.

By 2020, deployment of the final wireless sensor network board will be expected together with an industry partner and company customer revisit.

Also anchored in the program is the capability building of MSU-IIT Microelectronics Laboratory in designing and fabricating of digital ICs with product development.

Related to this, various IC design trainings, such as Basic Analog IC Design, IC Design Layout and Operational Amplifier Design were conducted for students and faculty in 12 universities in Mindanao.

Mentoring were also provided to university partners like Surigao State University, Holy Cross of Davao College, Xavier University, Jose Rizal Memorial State University and Notre Dame of Midsayap College, among others.

More than trainings, the program was also able to produce a total of 40 Bachelor of Science in Electronics and Communications Engineering graduates, 14 of which are now working in local IC design companies.

Meanwhile, 10 Master of Science in Electrical Engineering graduates are currently working in academe and in IC design companies, as well.

As a result of the extensive capacity building, nine paper publications related to the program were presented and recognized internationally during the 2018 IEEE International Conference on Control, Electronics, Renewable Energy and Communications, and in the 10th International Conference on Humanoid, Nanotechnology, Information Technology, Communication and Control, Environment and Management.

Lowaton shared that partnerships were already sealed with CAMP, Iligan Light and Power Inc., Pilmico Foods Corp. as industry partners or customers for product evaluation.

In addition, for further training partnership and manpower pooling, Xinyx Semiconductor, Surigao State College of Technology and Holy Cross of Davao College inked agreements, while more trainings are slated for the year-3 of the program.

Paringit said that the Philippines will soon be a powerhouse in electronics as the country’s human resource is increasing.

“We believe that with the exemplary and accelerated pace capabilities at which electronics experts is being produced, Mindanao will offer technology-oriented industries to complement its strong economic base,” he added. S&T Media Service


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