New retraining certificates, curriculum to build the quantum workforce

A new certificates program offered by the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago will educate scientists and engineers in the key principles of quantum technology and practical applications.

The rapidly emerging field of quantum technology has the power to transform cybersecurity, materials development, and computing, but jobs within the field require specific knowledge of quantum science and engineering and their potential applications. Companies in the communications, electronics, optics, and materials industries already struggle to find a large enough workforce to fill these jobs and that demand is only projected to increase in future years.

A preliminary survey of 30 quantum industry companies earlier this year by the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C) found that 55 percent of the respondents stated that they have to provide additional training to new hires, and 65 percent find hiring quantum information science employees challenging.

“It appears from this preliminary data that there are too few candidates, and that some candidates are insufficiently qualified for immediate industry engagement,” said Joseph Broz, Executive Director and Governing Board Chairman of the QEDC. The QED-C was launched last year by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and SRI to expand U.S. leadership in global quantum research and development and the emerging quantum industry in computing, communications and sensing. The QED-C will conduct a more extensive and thorough workforce survey in the coming year representing a broader cross-section of the QIS industry.

UChicago’s certificates program in Quantum Engineering and Technology is aimed at retraining scientists across their careers, particularly those who have been educated in classical physics, computer science, and other science and engineering fields, but who want to pursue a career in the growing quantum industries. The certificates program allows scientists and engineers to apply their existing knowledge to quantum applications without attaining another degree. While offered by the University’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) the certificates program will be managed by the Chicago Quantum Exchange, a catalyst for advancing academic and industrial efforts in the science and engineering of quantum information. It is the latest effort by the two organizations to develop the quantum workforce of the future.

“Companies are eager to hire employees with a knowledge of quantum science to develop emerging applications,” said David Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, and director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange. “Part of creating a quantum-ready workforce includes retraining those with experience in the physical sciences and engineering who do not have a background in quantum science. The certificates program paves the way for those in both the private and public sectors to pivot towards a career in quantum engineering and help develop technologies of the future.”

The certificate courses will be taught by faculty members from across institutions within the Chicago Quantum Exchange, a growing intellectual hub for the research and development of quantum technology. Based at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, the Chicago Quantum Exchange is anchored by UChicago, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and includes the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Northwestern University. It brings together more than 100 researchers from across the Midwest and is home to one of the largest collaborative teams working on quantum science in the world.

Approximately 25 to 30 students will be accepted into the first certificates program on Quantum Science and Engineering. This four-day in-person course is slated to take place April 27-April 30, 2020 in Chicago, IL. Scientists and engineers with advanced degrees in physics, engineering, and materials science are encouraged to apply. To sign up to receive information on additional quantum science and technology courses, contact