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base, similar to the base that supports ICs, would ensure that MEMS products could be manufactured at competitive rates and would enable more small companies and research organizations to enter the field.
Recommendation. A MEMS CAD-infrastructure that extends from the processing and basic modeling areas to full system-design capabilities should be established. A process technology infrastructure (e.g., supporting electrical, mechanical, fluid, chemical, and other steps and their integration to form complete systems) that is widely available to MEMS designers and product engineers should be developed. This recommendation calls for new strategic investment.
ACADEMIC STRUCTURE TO SUPPORT MEMS
The field of MEMS rests on multidisciplinary foundations. Practitioners who are poised to advance MEMS must have knowledge and skills in several fields of engineering and applied sciences. The participation of motivated, well trained young researchers is probably the single most important driver for success in MEMS. Some of these researchers will come from the ranks of trained IC engineers, who are already familiar with tools, materials, and procedures that are useful for MEMS. In general, however, these practicing engineers will have to learn new aspects of mechanical design, materials behavior, computing techniques, and systems design. Providing learning opportunities and educational materials for practicing engineers is important. But for future engineering students, effective instruction in MEMS will require major changes in curricula. A high priority should be placed on establishing an academic infrastructure that conveys the excitement and promise of the field, offers a sound and thorough education for MEMS researchers, and facilitates development of and access to new and innovative ideas across and among various disciplines.
Conclusion. Contributors to MEMS can be recruited both from practitioners already active in the IC field and from newly trained engineers. To facilitate the entry of practicing engineers into the field, opportunities to learn material that is special to MEMS should be encouraged through stimulating short courses and specialized text materials. For engineering undergraduates entering MEMS, programs and industrial procedures should be encouraged that stimulate multidisciplinary university education and enhance the skill and knowledge base of those training for or contributing to the development of MEMS. New MEMS engineers will require a broad understanding of several fields (e.g., electrical, mechanical, materials, and chemical engineering).
Recommendation. MEMS short courses and instructive materials that introduce practicing IC engineers to MEMS should be encouraged. Teaching institutions should be encouraged to see the benefits to their students and to their programs of emphasizing a broad, basic foundation in materials, production techniques, and engineering needed for MEMS. This recommendation calls for new strategic investment.