About Mic2ExL

Experiential Learning

The Chicagoland Partnership for Semiconductors and Microelectronics Experiential Learning (Mic2ExL) is a project funded by the National Science Foundation which was designed to respond to a critical national security need for an increase in the domestic production of electronic components through the development of a skilled and diverse local workforce to serve the growing Illinois technology sector. This partnership includes CSU’s Center for Information and Security Education and Research (CINSER), CSU’s Division of Non-traditional Degrees and Continuing Education, Quilt, a Chicago non-profit community organization, the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership Information Technology Sector Center, Argonne National Laboratory and industry partners.

The award, funded by NSF’s Directorate for STEM Education (EDU) and the Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP), has been granted through the Experiential Learning for Emerging and Novel Technologies (ExLENT) initiative which supports projects that provide experiential learning activities for diverse individuals to gain access to careers in emerging technology fields.  Mic2ExL’s goals include increasing the participation of individuals from underrepresented minority groups in the Chicagoland area in the local semiconductor and microelectronics industry through the provision of experiential learning opportunities, mentorship and culturally responsive support. The project will directly address the systemic barriers of entry to technological careers confronted by individuals from underrepresented groups.

The project responds to two national imperatives -- the national security concerns arising from the reliance on computing components manufactured abroad and the need for engagement of underdeveloped and underutilized pools of talent in the STEM workforce. The shortages of supplies of microchips that emerged during the coronavirus pandemic and concern for the national security of critical components using microelectronics led to the passage of the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science Act of 2022 (“CHIPS Act”) which aims to bolster leadership in semiconductors research, development and manufacturing and to promote equity in STEM.  Illinois has made significant strides in incentivizing the development of microelectronics manufacturing and jobs creation in microelectronics through the passage of SB3917, the Manufacturing Illinois Chips for Real Opportunity Act (MICRO Act). Mic2ExL will support these efforts through developing a prepared and ready workforce to support the semiconductor and microelectronics industry.


Apply to Participate in Mic2ExL Today!


We are accepting applications for our second program cohort which is scheduled to begin on March 15, 2025. Space in the program is limited. We will begin accepting applications for the second cohort in June 2024.  

Paid Internships Starting March 15, 2025

  • 100 hours hands-on classroom learning
  • 100 hours project at national laboratory
  • 50 hours practicum at employer
  • Mentoring Program

Participant Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Adult age 18 or older
  • Member of a group that is underrepresented in STEM (race, ethnicity, gender or ability)



NSF logo     Quilt logo      Argonne       IT Sector