What the CHIPS and Science Act Means for the American Construction Industry
What is the CHIPS Act?
On August 9, President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law. According to the White House, the CHIPS act will “boost American semiconductor research, development, and production, ensuring U.S. leadership in the technology that forms the foundation of everything from automobiles to household appliances to defense systems.” (1)
The CHIPS Act allocates $52 billion to increasing domestic semiconductor chip production. Of that, $39 billion supports the construction of chip manufacturing plants. The goal is to move semiconductor chip production to America. This will help mitigate supply chain issues such as those seen during Covid-19. It also keeps America at the front of emerging technologies and invests in our science and technology research facilities.
What Does the CHIPS Act Mean for the Construction Industry
This influx of funding for the construction, expansion, and modernization of semiconductor fabrication plants, or “fabs” as they’re known, is a boon for a construction industry hard hit by covid shutdowns, supply chain issues, and a looming recession. It’s estimated that nearly 120,000 jobs will be created in the design, construction, and equipment installation phase of these fabs over the next 4 years. (2)
However, the development doesn’t end at the fab sites. These facilities will require infrastructure upgrades to support the growth expected in the surrounding communities. In a letter for support for the CHIPS Act from the Associated General Contractors of America, they list three upcoming infrastructure projects totaling over $1 billion in investment in American communities due to semiconductor fabs. In addition, “these investments will lead to the construction of new schools, commercial buildings and more to accommodate growing communities.” (3) The construction projects created by the CHIPS Act are not limited to the fabs themselves but will be seen for a long while through indirect growth and development.
Challenges Facing the Construction Industry
Constructing a semiconductor fab is no small undertaking. These fabs bring our most innovative technologies together in one room. The process of creating semiconductor chips requires “thousands of process machines running plasmas, lasers, ultra-precision optics, ion accelerators, and advanced robotics” The environment these machines work in is a clean room held to a standard of up to 100,000x2 more sterile than a hospital operating room. (4)
This level of precision requires skilled and experienced designers and tradespeople. Most of these facilities use leading-edge design-build construction and engineering. This is to ensure the required standard of quality is upheld through every step of the construction process. However, as semiconductor fabrication has been moved off American soil, there are fewer opportunities for local construction professionals to build the necessary skills and experience for this type of work.
The CHIPS Act brings with it funding for STEM education and workforce development. This will support companies and employees in developing the skills required to construct and operate these semiconductor fabs as we move forward with their construction. In the meantime, however, we need all our skilled design and construction professionals to come together to fill the demand these projects are creating.
How ICON-BIM Can Help
As an American detailing company with experience on some of the most innovative projects across the country, we at ICON-BIM are excited about the opportunities and challenges the CHIPS Act brings to the American construction industry.
Having worked on semiconductor projects, we have the skills and experience necessary for the specialized design services required by fabs. Using advanced Streamline Integrated Project Delivery (SIPD), we are at the forefront of building modeling technology. That paired with detailers who have field experience on local construction projects means we have a 360-degree view of projects, both as designers and as Journeyman construction professionals.
We are proud to be a part of bringing semiconductor production back to American soil and ensuring the U.S. remains a world leader in technological innovation. It’s an exciting time to be part of the American construction industry and we’re looking forward to supporting upcoming semiconductor projects and all the community investment projects yet to come.
To learn more about ICON-BIM and how we support high-level projects such as semiconductor fabs, have a look at our website or contact us today.