President Barack Obama toured a modern microprocessor factory on 18 February and spoke to local students and high-tech factory workers at Intel Corporation's Oregon site, one of the largest and most advanced semiconductor research and manufacturing sites in the world. The theme of the President's visit was innovation in America, and the crucial role of education in maintaining U.S. competitiveness.
Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini said, "It is a great honor to host President Obama. Our country and this company have been built on innovation, and manufacturing has been at the heart of America's economy for over a century. We share the President's belief that with a culture of innovation we can and will retain a vibrant economy based on industries of the future."
With more than 15,000 workers in Oregon, Intel is the state's largest private employer. Intel's growth helped lead Oregon's transition from a natural resource economy based on timber and agriculture to a high-tech center of manufacturing and R&D, and helped spur a generation of spinoffs and new investments there.
During his visit, Obama toured Intel's Fab D1D at the company's Ronler Acres campus, a wafer fabrication facility that is an example of the leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing at Intel sites in Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico and other states.
In comments before the President spoke, Otellini disclosed Intel's plans to add 4,000 U.S. jobs in 2011, primarily in product development and R&D. Otellini also announced an investment of more than $5 billion to build a new U.S. fab at its Chandler, AZ site to produce future microprocessors. Designated Fab 42, it will be the most advanced high-volume semiconductor manufacturing facility in the world, and will result in thousands of construction and permanent manufacturing jobs in Arizona.
The President said that despite ongoing budget challenges, "we have to invest in America's research and technology, in the work of our scientists and our engineers." He concentrated on the importance of education, saying "it's the responsibility of all of us to get this right: parents, teachers, students, workers, business and government. We're all going to have to focus on this like a laser."
Obama credited Intel's investments in education, including tutoring and sponsoring science fairs, as well as direct financial investments. Before his speech, the President met six middle-school girls who demonstrated their Lego robots for him.
"If you can spark a student's interest in math or science who would have otherwise dropped out, you might not just change a child's life; you may nurture the talent that one day discovers the breakthrough that changes this industry forever," he said.
The night before arriving in Portland, Obama dined with CEOs of the high-tech industry in Woodside, CA, including Apple's Steve Jobs, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, and others.
Full press release from Intel
Text of President Obama's remarks