Georgia Tech started as an NSF Engineering Research Center with a proposal by Prof. Rao Tummala in October 1993 about a new paradigm of SOP vs. SOC that was underway then. In 1994, PRC was funded by NSF for 11 years at a funding level of $35M, as the 1st and only ERC in packaging in the U.S. to serve as a National Center to explore and develop the SOP concept and educate large number of highly-interdisciplinary students in this concept. This funding was supplemented by more than 50 U.S. companies (~$100M) and the State of Georgia (~$35M), matching money to NSF. As result, about 20 new faculty were recruited with expertise in every electronics area. The 1st of a kind 300 mm panel-size cleanroom pilot package, assembly and reliability facility at a cost of $47M was set up.
Over the 11 years, comprehensive research, educational and industry collaborations programs have been developed with companies from the U.S., Europe and Asia. The Georgia Tech’s industry consortium involving researchers, developers, users and supply-chain manufacturing companies supplying materials, and tools which formed the basis of this consortium. The technology paradigm pursued at Georgia Tech was a new concept called System-On-Package (SOP), not System-In-Package (SIP), which has been developed and manufactured for over 10 years. The SOP, in contrast to System-on-Chip (SOC) and SIP, is a system scaling concept, leading to ultra-miniaturized and highly functional smart systems such as Smartphones.
The outcome of being an NSF ERC for Georgia Tech PRC is described in Figure 1: GT PRC output as NSF ERC, showing more than 400 PhD, 470 MS and 340 BS engineers all specializing in one or more aspects of SOP.
Prof. Rao Tummala continued as the Director of the PRC until his retirement in 2018. In 2019, based on an international search, Prof. Madhavan Swaminathan was appointed as the next Director of PRC to continue the center legacy (https://www.facebook.com/GaTechSchoolofElectricalandComputerEngineering/posts/congratulations-to-madhavan-swaminathan-on-being-appointed-as-the-new-director-o/10157018617454326/ ). The center celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019.
Figure 2: PRC 25th Anniversary Celebrations