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Why TSMC Really came to the US for Manufacturing

Daniel Nenni

Staff member
C.C. Wei GRD ’85 gave a talk at O.C. Marsh Hall on Monday as one of this year’s four Wilbur Cross Medal recipients.


C.C. Wei GRD ’85, chief executive officer of Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, a Taiwanese company that designs and manufactures semiconductors, returned to Yale on Monday to receive the Wilbur Cross Medal, an award given to graduate alumni for outstanding achievements.

Wei is one of this year’s four alumni who came to campus to receive the Wilbur Cross Medal. Wei’s event was also part of the Dean’s Invited Speaker Series, which organizes discussions with prominent industry leaders in engineering and adjacent fields.

While the session was originally intended to be a conversation between Wei and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo LAW ‘98, Raimondo was unable to attend due to obligations in Washington, D.C.

Instead, Dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences Jeffrey Brock ’92 facilitated the discussion, which centered on Wei’s time at Yale, his transition from academia to industry and the role of the United States in semiconductor manufacturing.

“So many of our alums have made their way to the top of the industrial world, in one role or another, that have incredible stories,” Brock said when introducing Wei at the event. “Our guest today really implemented that probably more than any of our alums.”

In his opening remarks, Brock commented on Wei’s tie, which was navy blue and covered in white Yale logos. Wei said that the event was the only time he could wear the tie with pride, joking about possible complaints from other schools’ alumni if he wore it to work.

In the beginning of the discussion, Wei described his educational journey. After attending college in Taiwan, Wei said he was drawn to Yale in part to work with his graduate mentor, Professor Tso-Ping Ma. Wei said that Ma greatly influenced him and taught him how to research and write well.

“[Ma] was very patient and very instructive,” Wei said. “He also showed me how to write a good paper.”

After earning his PhD from Yale, Wei worked for various semiconductor companies, eventually joining Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Company in 1998. Over the next decade, he climbed the company ladder and was appointed CEO in 2018.

In his discussion, Wei reflected on his transition from managing transistors as an engineer to managing people as CEO. After pointing to the large number of policy and industry leaders that Yale has produced, Wei cited President Peter Salovey’s research on emotional intelligence as essential reading for future leaders.

“I like to manage the machine because it doesn’t protest,” Wei said. “Managing people is way tougher.”

Wei also talked about the importance of semiconductors in the modern age.

Wei said that there are important applications for semiconductors in autonomous driving, medical operations and artificial intelligence.

“[The] semiconductor is the center of every technology,” Wei said.

Following Brock’s interview questions, undergraduate and graduate students asked Wei questions about his career and present-day issues related to technology.

One student asked about why TSMC recently decided to build a semiconductor production plant in Phoenix, Arizona. Wei said TSMC chose to locate the plant in Arizona where there was the larger pool of skilled workers, a practical limitation that TSMC faced in Taiwan.

“To tell the truth, the U.S. is the country with the most talented and innovative people, especially for the Ivy League student,” Wei said.

He said that the U.S. government’s commitment to helping TSMC build this plant might encourage the construction of more American factories in the future.

Another student asked about TSMC’s role in an era of rising geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China. Wei declined to comment, though he noted that China is the company’s second largest customer.

Several students told the News that were excited to hear about Wei’s experiences, especially about his enthusiasm for Yale and the importance of semiconductors.

“I thought the talk was insightful about Yale and international trade,” Connor Flood ’26 said.

In the event, Wei offered advice to students about how to achieve success after graduating school. Wei emphasized the importance of enjoying one’s work, no matter the industry.

“You have to find passion in your work,” Wei said. “If you cannot find passion, don’t do it. Change to another company, or change your boss.”

It is true that the combination of population in Taiwan, education and the limited immigration makes supporting TSMC explosive need for expansion in Taiwan limited. It is the natural cycle of growth for companies to go international as they grow.

US education system, immigration and population this nation the greatest place of innovation. Now will it be the place of great semiconductor manufacturing we will see…. Whether semiconductors autos companies need to expand and as they do they need to evolve their culture.

Sadly semiconductor manufacturing TSMC style ( the TSMC culture ) is militaristic, with ridiculous long hours, very restricted way of doing things that runs counter to what most Americans are willing to do. Attracting tier one engineering talent to work at the hard mind numbing way TSMC works its engineer in the US is a joke! If you read Glassdoor and read between the lines it’s obvious without leadership and culture change TSMC will continue to find significant challenge without most if not the US operation being done by Taiwanese too to bottom.

Like all the Japanese companies that came to US, TSMC better change for US and Germany
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