A group of scientists from five universities across the Midwest will lead an effort to redesign quantum science education, working together with industry and national laboratories to develop a diverse, capable, and effective quantum workforce.
The rapidly evolving field of quantum information science will enable transformative technologies that will have a significant impact on our economy and society. Reaching that promise, however, requires developing a large quantum-ready workforce that can meet the existing and growing demand for skilled workers across the communications, optics, computing, and materials industries.
The new, multi-institutional program, QuSTEAM: Convergent Undergraduate Education in Quantum Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), aims to change how quantum information science and technology is taught throughout the United States.
“We are fortunate to have this opportunity to build nationwide curricula for future quantum scientists and engineers from the ground up,” said QuSTEAM co-PI David Awschalom, Liew Family Professor in Quantum Engineering and Physics at the University of Chicago, senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, and director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange. “Doing so will enable us to develop a teaching and learning environment that attracts new students to the area by focusing on field-leading innovations and societal impact from the outset, a paradigm shift from most STEM programs.”
QuSTEAM is a member of the 2020 cohort of the NSF Convergence Accelerator program, which supports use-inspired and team-based efforts to fast-track transitions from basic research and discovery into practice. The QuSTEAM team consists of 19 faculty members across five universities: The Ohio State University, University of Chicago, Michigan State University; Chicago State, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. QuSTEAM has also partnered with industry and national laboratory collaborators, including Applied Materials, HRL Laboratories, IBM, and Argonne National Laboratory.
QuSTEAM will begin by gathering information from stakeholders in academia, industry, and national laboratories to identify critical scientific and engineering practices required of a quantum-ready workforce.
“Quantum information science is a shift in the way technology works,” said Ezekiel Johnston-Halperin, professor of physics at The Ohio State University and lead investigator on the project. “That requires a fundamentally different skillset and knowledge base than a traditional STEM degree offers, and as a result, we need a new educational approach for training a quantum-ready workforce.”
The QuSTEAM team, which consists of experts in subject matter, pedagogical practices, and workforce development will develop modules built around single concepts that can be arranged to shape an array of educational paths—from bachelor’s and associate’s degrees to certificates and minors.