DOD Microelectronics Director Talks on Accelerating Microelectronics Innovation to Unlock “Win” Technology

The United States is in the midst of a microelectronics dilemma. Demand for semiconductor chips has risen, but supply chain problems have led to a sharp decline in chip manufacturing, and a national security problem for the United States.

“Semiconductors are essential for national security,” according to a White House spokesman supply chain report. These chips are at the heart of almost every technological advancement the U.S. is currently making. All inclusive, military systems, advanced weapons, hypersonic, targeted energy, communications, autonomous systems, AI, 5G and much more are all dependent on semiconductor technology.

Echoing the Interim Strategic Guide to National Security, Dr. Devanand ShenoyThe director of microelectronics at the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Defense Research and Engineering at DOD said: “Semiconductors are key to the technologies that need to be won in the future.”

In the last two years, however, the global supply chain has been hit hard. In February 2021, the time interval between ordering a semiconductor chip and fulfilling that order reached a record 15 weeks, and manufacturing sources have continued to decline.

Now, the federal government is increasing its domestic semiconductor manufacturing capabilities, developing a strong workforce and accelerating innovation pipelines to prevent it from being overtaken by rivals.

Over time Microelectronics ForumOrganized by ExecutiveBiz Events, Dr. Shenoy affirmed that we need to increase the discovery and innovation of microelectronic technologies while ensuring the supply chain if we are to meet current urgent national security needs and prepare them for the future.

“We want to ensure multi-vendor channeling of critical microelectronics in a global supply chain that is declining across generations of technologies,” Dr. Shenoy said, emphasizing the importance of industry associations and production capacity.

DOD is currently making a number of efforts to secure this pipeline. The Defense Crossroads Microelectronics Group, headed by Dr. Shenoy, was created to provide greater cohesion and unity to DOD’s many microelectronics efforts.

The CFT, Dr. Shenoy explained, “aims to provide a door-to-door organization for increasing the decentralized execution that currently exists in multiple agencies, offices, and organizations with respect to microelectronics.”

The Department of Defense is also taking a serious look at the supply chain’s visibility challenges in its efforts to accelerate microelectronics innovation.

“For many years the department has been trying to develop the tools and capabilities to be visible in the supply chain from the highest levels to the sub-level of the supply chain,” he said. “Until it becomes more visible, it will be difficult to identify certain threats, vulnerabilities and risks to the supply chain.”

DOD AMARO is developing a tool called Microelectronic Analysis and Reporting Optimization to alleviate some of these visibility issues and provide a better view of the supply chain.

Dr Shenoy said AMARO “can make micro-electronic life cycle maps throughout its supply chain and identify potential threats and vulnerabilities, and assess them in a material invoice.” But applications of tools like AMARO are also widespread in the past in microelectronics and can be used in the future to model and predict important results for the broader needs of DOD.

These tools can help high-level decision makers “answer strategic questions such as ‘What will be the impact of DOD if country X invades country Y?’ and, ‘What if there was a natural disaster?’ You know, ‘What if a particular supplier in a supply chain couldn’t supply critical parts of that ecosystem?’ ”Dr. Shenoy explained.

Being able to answer these questions faster is key to securing supply chains across different sectors, he added.

The Microelectronics Forum is part of ExecutiveBiz Events ’DOD-focused series of critical and emerging technologies. Join us for the next event in the series on July 12th, the Hypersonics Forum.

Michael White, CEO of OUSD R&E, will give a talk. Sign up here.

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