Carnegie Mellon University

black CMU and Apple logos 

Apple’s New Silicon Initiative (NSI) aims to prepare students for careers in hardware technology, computer architecture, and silicon chip design. The program began in 2019 with Carnegie Mellon University and expanded to include Stanford University and UC Berkeley in 2020. The next year, as part of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, four HBCUs joined the NSI program: Alabama A&M University, Howard University, Morgan State University, and Prairie View A&M University.

The program's objective is to address the growing demand in the US for a workforce in IC design and computer architecture areas. The NSI team provides various modes of support to help increase visibility in microelectronic circuits and hardware design. By reintroducing IC design and tapeout-to-silicon courses in the ECE curriculum, the program enables students to take IC design courses and a VLSI path, while gearing them for a career in hardware engineering.

Partnership Ingredients
  1. Identify VLSI pathways and curriculum
  2. Engage with students through various initiatives: Guest Lectures by Apple subject matter experts; Computer Hardware and VLSI Design Clubs
  3. Support NSI courses through tapeout class fabrication and bringup, as well as provide additional resources for TA and lab support
  4. Encourage continued education in VLSI through Scholarship and Fellowship opportunities
  5. Exposure to career opportunities through networking with Apple engineers and Apple internships
  6. Share curriculum across university partners

Fellows

  • AY2020-2021: Nathan Serafin, McKenzie Van Der Hagen
  • AY2021-2022: Nathan Serafin, McKenzie Van Der Hagen, Minh Truong, Mohammad Bakhshalipour
  • AY2022-2023: Minh Truong, Mohammad Bakhshalipour, Siddharth Das, Wei Li
  • AY2023-2024: Siyuan Chen, Deepali Garg, Larry Tang

Scholars

  • AY2020-2021: Deanyone Su, Ryan Oh, Anna Li, Tarana Laroia
  • AY2021-2022: Heather Baker, Joseph Yankel, Alexander Li, Venkata Vivek Thallam
  • AY2022-2023: Mae Hoad, Christopher Bernard, Matthew Shen, Alexander Glass
  • AY2023-2024: Joshua Cheng, Gustav Hansen, Michael Nguyen, Aditi Raghavan, Christopher Porco

In partnership with CMU ECE faculty, Apple engineers present guest lectures in a wide range of integrated system design courses, including microelectronic circuits, IC design, logic design, verification and testing, and computer architecture. Apple engineers also participate in design reviews for projects in IC design courses (17-725/525 and 18-726) and provide feedback to help students in their IC design for “tapeout” and chip bring up and validation. Select courses, such as 18-500, 18-725/525, and 18-726, are eligible for Apple prizes.

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