On the eve of Micron’s 45th anniversary, its chief executive officer, Sanjay Mehrotra, talked to a packed room at Boise State University’s Stueckle Sky Center, highlighting how far the company has come and how far it has yet to go.
On Oct. 4, Mehrotra, who has been CEO since 2017, told the crowd of a couple hundred people that Micron would be breaking ground on a 600,000-square-foot manufacturing plant the next day. The plant would be coupled with the research and development lab, creating 2,000 new jobs at the company. The talk was part of a speaker series organized by the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce.
“That colocation benefit is going to accelerate time to market of new advanced technologies,” he said in response to a question posed by Dr. Marlene Tromp, president of Boise State, who conducted the interview. “It will accelerate our ability to bring innovation in high volume production in the best quality manner much faster than anything we have been able to do in the past.”
By building the new facility, Mehrotra pointed out, it creates jobs throughout the rest of the community in other industries. Micron estimates an additional 15,000 jobs will come out of the project.
“So, over the course of a few years, it will make a difference of 17,000 new jobs and more than that, it will actually help increase that, and these are high-paying jobs,” he said. “It will increase the average wages in the community by a substantial percentage, as well as actually improve the child poverty in the region.”
The fabrication facility is slated to begin operating by 2026, which Mehrotra called an “aggressive timeline.”
Only about 2% of memory systems are created in the United States, he pointed out, “obviously, this has to change.”
Mehrotra said that in 10 years that percentage will increase to 15. And, he added, 60% of Micron’s memory will be produced in the U.S.
Along with creating new jobs in tech, Micron is focusing on creating a new workforce in tech, partnering with various educational institutions to make STEM learning available to students as early as kindergarten to get children interested in tech careers.
“We are very much focused on traditionally hiring from four-year colleges, but (we’re) looking at more representation of two-year college for apprenticeships for technician jobs which are highly sophisticated and well-paying jobs as well,” he said. “And reaching out to underrepresented groups, tapping into talent in the rural areas and … training them for our workforce.”
Mehrotra added that having a more diverse and inclusive workforce, hiring more women engineers, various ethnicities and veterans will help provide more viewpoints will create better innovation. “I think it’s a big opportunity for really creating opportunity for all.”
“The more people you have with different approaches and different mindsets on your teams, the more you’re going to produce outcomes that are strong, better than you could produce” without that diversity, Tromp said.
Mehrotra also cited research that showed without efforts to create a workforce, the semiconductor industry could face a shortage of 75,000 workers by 2030.
As the company progresses, it looks to embrace and innovate emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI). Micron is already developing tools that could have far-reaching benefits.
“We recently introduced a product that’s called high-bandwidth memory. And that high bandwidth is really important to address generative AI applications,” Mehrotra said. “Generative AI is not about just data analytics and insights into the data, but it is also about data creation,” which will require massive amounts of memory.
Micron’s high-bandwidth memory, he said, is 50% faster and 50% more dense than other compatible products on the market.
For Mehrotra, the tech industry should help enhance the quality of life worldwide through innovations.
“With all these advances in technology tied to AI and autonomous and IOT and industrial, I really look forward to continuing to uplift all the communities in society, here and everywhere,” he said.