updated 5/5/2011 12:17:11 PM ET 2011-05-05T16:17:11

BOISE, Idaho, May 5, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Boise State University announced today that Micron Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq:MU), has committed $13 million to the College of Engineering for the development of a Ph.D. program in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) — the largest gift to the university in its nearly 80-year history. A Ph.D. program will increase collaborative research with the potential to yield significant benefits in areas ranging from health care to construction and defense.

"We continue to be impressed with the trajectory of Boise State's Materials Science and Engineering Department. Micron's contribution to this program is a great investment in the future of our Company, community and the State of Idaho," said Micron CEO Steve Appleton. "A doctorate program focused on materials science and engineering will strengthen Boise State's ability to develop breakthrough technologies and help create the associated broad-based economic and societal benefits."

"By investing in Boise State, Micron is investing in the future of the high-tech workforce and the proud tradition of American creativity," said Boise State President Bob Kustra. "Innovative materials drive the creation of critical new technologies, industries and ways of life. This landmark gift will position Boise State's materials science program as one of the top research engines in the region and we are grateful for Micron's continued support."

Materials science combines various technical disciplines with manufacturing and design to solve engineering problems and explore the relationships between the processing, structure and properties of metals, ceramics, polymers and composites. At the atomic and molecular levels, the ability of materials scientists to manipulate and create materials is essential to emerging technologies in a global industry worth an estimated $550 billion.

Related research in Boise State's MSE department ranges from using DNA as nanoscale scaffolding for groundbreaking biomedical devices to developing new materials to withstand environmental conditions such as extreme heat, corrosive gas and radiation. An undergraduate degree program and two master's degree programs bridge the pure and applied sciences and produce graduates with interdisciplinary skills that are in demand, and the addition of a doctoral program promises direct benefits for the university and Micron.

"A Ph.D. program would mark the evolution of our impressive and rapidly growing research portfolio in the MSE department," said College of Engineering Interim Dean Amy Moll. "Graduates are now highly sought by major research universities across the nation as doctoral students, and we would like to keep that talent in Idaho. With Micron's support, the department will make strategic hires in critical areas, including energy materials, nanotechnology, and innovative materials for semiconductor products."

Between 2004 and 2010, the MSE department's graduate student population quadrupled, and the current undergraduate enrollment is at a record 93 students. Externally funded research has grown dramatically as well, with tenured and tenure track faculty bringing in more than $11 million over the last two years. Micron's $13 million gift will promote further growth in the department and the College of Engineering. The creation of a MSE Ph.D. program is pending State Board of Education approval and is expected to be reviewed at a regularly scheduled meeting this summer.

Micron Technology, Inc., is one of the world's leading semiconductor companies. Micron DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash memory products are used in everything from computing, networking and server applications to mobile, embedded, consumer, automotive and industrial designs. Learn more about Micron at http://www.micron.com.

The Micron Technology, Inc. logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=6950

About Boise State University

As an emerging metropolitan research university of distinction, Boise State University plays a crucial role in the region's economic development and famed quality of life. Idaho's largest institution of higher education offers nearly 200 degrees and certificates in seven colleges. While remaining committed to the strong teaching legacy that has resulted in 11 Idaho Professor of the Year awards since 1990, Boise State's added emphasis on innovation and creativity is fueling the fastest growing research program in Idaho.

CONTACT:  Boise State Media Contact:
          Frank Zang
          University Communications
          (208) 426-5391
          frankzang@boisestate.edu
         
          Micron Media Contact:
          Dan Francisco
          Micron Technology, Inc.
          (208) 368-5584
          dfrancisco@micron.com

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