opinion Money alone won’t buy US tech superiority.

One reason for this skill gap is that those already working in the semiconductor industry in the United States tend to have experience in chip design rather than manufacturing. For years, many American companies Ordered chips from contract manufacturers. Abroad, like a Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturing company, instead of undertaking the very expensive process of manufacturing, testing and packaging the chips. But as geopolitical tensions with China escalated, American leaders began pushing for the ability to make advanced chips in the U.S. as an insurance policy in the event of trade disruptions.

To prepare for that day, the Trump administration pressed a Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturing company to build a fab on US soil capable of mass-producing advanced chips. But finding people in Arizona, where the fab will be built, with the same skills and work ethic as the company’s factory in Sancho, said company founder Morris Chang. told a symposium last year.

Attracting highly skilled foreigners who can help train the U.S. workforce is essential to success, at least in the short term, according to a report by the Center for Security and Emerging Technologies, which estimated that “at least 3,500 foreign-born workers will be needed”. New American fabs to staff. He said some could come from American universities, but many would need to be recruited from Taiwan and South Korea.

The state of higher education in this sector is also alarming. The number of US graduate students studying in semiconductor-related fields remains constant. Almost flat since 1990While the number of foreigners enrolled in these fields in American universities has increased three times. According to “Winning the Tech Talent ContestAccording to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, only 23,000 Americans are expected to graduate with Ph.D.s in science, math, engineering and technology-related fields in 2025, while 17,000 foreign students in these fields are enrolled at American universities. will graduate from .

It’s great that non-citizens are helping close the yawning gap with China, which is estimated to graduate 77,000 PhDs this year. But we cannot take foreign talent for granted. As of 2016, total foreign enrollment at US universities Every year has fallenSome have become concerned that foreign entry in semiconductor-related sectors may also be at risk in the future.

Philip Wong, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University, told me that the pull from the United States is not what it used to be. Although smart students from Asia continue to come to Stanford, he said, some of them pass up the opportunity to stay in the U.S. in favor of working in dynamic tech industries closer to home. “They don’t need to come to America to have a good career,” Mr. Wong told me. “If you look back over the decades, the reasons for students to come to America are starting to disappear.”