SAN MARCOS —It’s tiny. In fact, it’s microscopic. But it’s a clear signal that big things are in store for the departments of Technology and Physics at Southwest Texas State University.
Graduate student Nai-Chang “Luke” Yeh recently completed construction of the first working transistor ever fabricated at SWT, and his professor says it represents a historic moment for the university.
“It represents an important milestone for the university and for the Technology and Physics departments. From this point, devices that are more complex can be built, circuits can be designed and tested and, most importantly, many students will have the opportunity to learn the technology and physics involved,” said Gene Stouder, holder of the Roy F. and Joann Cole Mitte Chair in Semiconductor Research and Education at SWT.
Transistors are the smallest working units in solid-state integrated circuits. Modern computer chips each contain many millions of them.
“High speed computer performance is the result of making transistors smaller and smaller. They are microscopic in size and fabricated in semiconductor materials such as silicon,” said Stouder.
The completion of the transistor project represents a step in a process that began about five years ago when SWT administration decided to strongly support the region’s high tech industries. The Technology and Physics departments jointly proposed an aggressive program of semiconductor and materials physics education and research.
In addition, SWT began construction of the Roy F. and Joann Cole Mitte Art, Technology and Physics Complex. That building is scheduled for occupancy in the 2003 fall semester.
“With the completion of the Mitte Complex, SWT will have one of the best clean rooms of any university in Texas especially designed for teaching and available to undergraduates, an unusual situation since such facilities are most often limited to research and graduate study,” said Stouder.
Within the past two years, the Department of Technology has introduced a new manufacturing engineering degree program. The program offers several specializations that support local industry, including semiconductor manufacturing.
Similarly, the Physics Department has added a master’s degree program in materials physics that supports the region’s high tech industry.