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North Carolina and the Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute

2014 is going to be an exciting year for North Carolina. This state is already ranked 9th in the nation for highest GDP with an impressive $455.9 billion. In 2013 North Carolina was ranked 4th best state for business by Forbes magazine and CNBC voted North Carolina to have the 3rd best workforce in the United States. North Carolina is the fourth largest manufacturing state in the country and after President Obama’s announcement at North Carolina State University things are looking even more positive for North Carolina’s economy. The President’s speech at Raleigh regarding the outlook of North Carolina’s future was two-fold. He addressed the plans to build a new manufacturing facility in North Carolina and he explained what types of products will be developed.

North Carolina State University, which has one of the largest undergraduate engineering programs in the nation, is to be the home of the newest manufacturing innovation hub. The Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute is designed to bring industry leaders, universities and federal research teams together in one facility to develop the newest power electronics technologies. This type of initiative is similar to President Obama’s “Promise Zones” program. This program aims to provide specific communities with tax incentives and federal grants to develop manufacturing hubs which will bolster the economies of those areas. By encouraging the growth and improvement of our technology not only results in more energy efficient products for Americans but also makes our products more competitive on a global level.

One of the main goals for the Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute in North Carolina is to create highly energy efficient wide bandgap semiconductors. Power electronics technology is used in virtually every modern electronic but there is an issue regarding the current material of choice for these devices. Silicon chips have been the staple of power electronics for many decades but these chips are not able to keep up with the power conversions which results in high energy consumption. These new wide bandgap semiconductors will be able to eliminate up to 90 percent of power loss and power electronics can be made with a smaller design because fewer semiconductors will be required. This institution will spur manufacturing growth which in turn will support the middle class and the products developed from this institution will lower long-term energy costs.

These powerful innovations are not the only thing for North Carolina to be excited about. North Carolina is a major contributor to the agriculture industry, generating nearly $70 billion. The North Carolina Eastern Region organization has made some major breakthroughs in recent news. There has even been pushes to create the nation’s first commercial liquid fuel that is grown from energy crops and the processing plant to manufacture these fuels will be located in North Carolina. From energy efficient wide bandgap semiconductors to a growing agriculture economy; there are a number of factors that truly make this a year of action for North Carolina.