Quantum Workforce Elements, Toolbox for QIS Programs at Universities

In summary, the conversation discusses the potential for building a curriculum and student organization dedicated to quantum information science at a university. The focus would be on providing opportunities for students to learn and contribute to the field, particularly in areas such as quantum computing, information theory, and materials. The ideal structure would involve a diverse range of courses and resources, including access to infrastructure and partnerships with companies and institutions in the field. The ultimate goal would be to create a serious and well-organized organization that can contribute to the growing field of quantum information science.
  • #1
cwill53
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TL;DR Summary: Imagine you have infinite funds and cooperation to build a very ideal curriculum and student organization, both dedicated to quantum information science, at a university. What does this look like pedagogically? How would this be structured? What resources do students need access to that can't be obtained without funds and cooperation? In a perfect world, what would you ask your funding sources and advocates for? What would be your biggest goals? Elaborate in as much detail as you want.

Hello Physics Forums,

I am a fourth-year undergraduate student doing a degree in physics and a degree in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I am going to be participating in the Undergraduate School on Experimental Quantum Information Processing at the University of Waterloo this summer, and I will also do undergraduate research there for the remainder of the summer. I'm still very new beginner to the field of quantum information science. I have taken a few introductory courses on "quantum", including a graduate course on quantum chemistry. Recently, many opportunities have arose, and I am in need of quite a bit of guidance.

As you all know, quantum information science (QIS) is a growing field. The world governments are pouring in tons of money into research and the development of a quantum workforce. For example, I was at an event put together by the British and Canadian consulates on Wednesday, in association with the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE) on building a diverse and inclusive quantum workforce. This event sort of prompted me to take further action as the president of the Quantum Information Science Club at my school.

Chicago in particular is a hub for QIS and many projects due to infrastructure and the presence of Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and several QIS-focused startups based in Chicago. These institutions and smaller companies, together with larger companies such as Intel, IBM, and Keysight Technologies, just to name a few, constitute the Chicago Quantum Exchange.

For a little bit of context, there was a student organization called the Quantum Computing Club at UIC. This club fell through due to both the pandemic, relative lack of QIS-adjacent infrastructure at the school, and perhaps lack of interest. It was centered around promoting the IBM Certified Associate Developer - Quantum Computation using Qiskit v0.2X Certification, whose overview can be found here:

https://www.ibm.com/training/certification/C0010300

The club had a community called a server on the social platform called Discord. The server (which I will allow you all to join here if you're interested) was the main point of contact for all potential club events, and also a place to collect resources, advertise seminars, etc. It had gained enough traction that a couple hundred students had joined the server. However, activity in the server was still pretty low, and essentially vanished after the pandemic.

I had been in the server for a couple years before I decided to reach out and see if the club itself was still active. The president at the time essentially gave the presidency to me after I expressed interest in reviving the club. I renamed the club to the UIC Quantum Information Science Club and reorganized the server to include (among other tabs) sections for the following areas of study:

QIS
- Quantum Computation
- Quantum Information Theory
- Quantum Materials
- Quantum Networks
- Quantum Control
- Quantum Communications
- Quantum Mechanics
- Quantum Field Theory
- Quantum Chemistry
- Quantum Optics
- Quantum Sensing
- Quantum Machine Learning
- Quantum Foundations
- AMO
- Solid State and Condensed Matter

Mathematics
- Linear and Abstract Algebra
- Probability and Statistics
- Mathematical Analysis

Programming

I wanted to broaden the focus from just quantum computing to enable many more majors to find something appealing and participate. While most of these channels don't get any activity, I'm hoping that they will in the future. The club/server has been getting a decently large influx of students who are interested in learning more about the field. The club is still in its beginning stages (I have to rewrite the bylaws for the executive board, for example), but many doors are opening up.

Within the short time I have been president of the club, just there being an alleged group of students studying quantum mechanics at UIC has opened several more doors than I expected. It's as if you can take a group of people, slap a name on the group, and suddenly advocates come out of the woodwork before you even have to ask for help. Me and a few of the members of the club have regularly attended events hosted by the Chicago Quantum Exchange (such as the recent 2023 Chicago Quantum Recruiting Forum), and have visited the Chicago Quantum Exchange on a regular basis to have conversations with several of the CEOs and founders of some of these startups, such as memQ, qBraid (shoutout to them for making using Qiskit on my old Chromebook feasible with their seamless online environment, plus they're working on so much that the documentation can't even keep up), Infleqtion, and EeroQ, to name a few.

While that's all fine and dandy, the vision I have for this club is for it to actually be something to be taken seriously, it has to be serious about its purpose, providing opportunities, being organized, and doing all of these things well. In my opinion, learning quantum mechanics and the theoretical underpinnings of QIS, and building the necessary knowledge base to contribute to things like open-source repositories and initiatives such as Unitary Fund is of principal importance. In my opinion, there is also a need for more engineers with a knowledge of quantum mechanics (quantum information-style) and quantum experimentalists, so we can actually work towards building better quantum devices and hardware. At my school, several pieces of curricular infrastructure for this purpose is missing, and even more generally some elements are just absent. For example, there is no actual computational chemistry course at this school, even in the graduate department (there is one graduate course in the civil and materials engineering department on computational materials design that I plan to take next semester). I can find several more examples of such missing curriculum components.

One of my big goals with the club is to help foster more collaborations between students in different colleges (which can maybe trickle upwards down the line) and also to make my university a member of the Chicago Quantum Exchange, as University of Illinois at Chicago is not a member of the CQE (for university-political reasons you can probably guess). I believe the presence of the club and student interest can make something like this possible, or at least provide the individuals and bodies capable of making these changes happen a basis to go off of.

My school and club has advocates from the Chicago Quantum Exchange an initiative called QuSTEAM, that want to help us scale quantum clubs to other US campuses, support and disseminate a toolbox to make the lift easier on additional campuses, and support things like hackathons, prizes, and provide speakers for us. QuSTEAM will be launching a QISE instructor community forum as part of their course infrastructure, but don't have plans for a cross-campus student Discord/Slack (which they think is a good idea, however).

Additionally, the Chicago Quantum Exchange has essentially asked me to give them an idea of exactly what I am looking for in terms of resources for this program. They want me to provide them with my vision for the near future. Thus between the CQE and QuSTEAM, I am sure my club could receive various forms of support.
At this moment I've been trying to formulate an intelligible, clear, and thorough response about what resources an ideal club would need to flourish and grow and enable us to have very successful outcomes. The reason I made this thread is because I wanted input from educated individuals within the space of quantum mechanics and its pedagogy.

I talked to a quantum scientist abroad about the pedagogy and minimum requisites a decent "quantum engineering" curriculum would involve, essentially his response was

"This depends on your background/experience, but I'd set a pre-requisite of knowing about vectors and matrices to the point where you can actually do the basic stuff in practice (y'know, matrix multiplication, calculate eigenvectors etc.). I'd say stuff like courses on complexity classes, quantum physics (quantum info-style), quantum computing, programming (both with the aim of learning how to program and doing e.g. control engineering), compiler design, QC 'platforms', circuit design and fabrication (by experience, obviously, this is engineering you're talking about), lots of time doing experiments and optimisation in the lab. I'd say that's kind of 'minimum'."

Essentially, the discussion I want to have is this:

Imagine you have infinite funds and cooperation to build a very ideal curriculum and student organization, both dedicated to quantum information science, at a university. What does this look like pedagogically? How would this be structured? What resources do students need access to that can't be obtained without funds and cooperation? In a perfect world, what would you ask your funding sources and advocates for? What would be your biggest goals? Elaborate in as much detail as you want.
 
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In an ideal world, a quantum information science program at a university would be structured in a way that allows students to develop a strong foundation in both theoretical and experimental aspects of quantum mechanics. This would involve a combination of rigorous theoretical courses in quantum mechanics, as well as hands-on experimental work in a well-equipped lab. The program would also incorporate interdisciplinary courses in fields such as mathematics, computer science, and engineering, to provide students with a well-rounded education in quantum information science.

One of the key elements of a successful program would be access to state-of-the-art resources and equipment. This includes access to specialized hardware such as quantum computers, simulators, and quantum sensors, as well as advanced software tools for simulating and programming quantum systems. In addition, having access to a well-equipped lab with specialized equipment for quantum experiments is crucial for students to gain hands-on experience and develop practical skills.

To ensure that students are able to keep up with the rapidly evolving field of quantum information science, the program would need to have a strong emphasis on research and collaboration. This would involve partnerships with industry leaders, as well as collaborations with other universities and research institutions. This would not only provide students with access to cutting-edge research, but also opportunities for internships and job placements after graduation.

In terms of curriculum, a comprehensive program in quantum information science would include courses on topics such as quantum computing, quantum information theory, quantum materials, quantum networks, quantum control, quantum communications, quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, quantum chemistry, quantum optics, quantum sensing, quantum machine learning, and quantum foundations. These courses would be designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of quantum mechanics, as well as the practical skills needed to apply this knowledge to real-world problems.

In addition to theoretical and experimental coursework, the program would also incorporate opportunities for students to participate in research projects and internships. This would allow students to gain hands-on experience in their chosen field and develop practical skills that are highly sought after by employers. The program would also provide opportunities for students to attend workshops, seminars, and conferences, where they can network with professionals and learn about the latest developments in the field.

To ensure that students are well-prepared for the workforce, the program would also include courses on entrepreneurship and business management. This would provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to turn their research and ideas into successful businesses and startups.

In terms of funding and support, a program like this would require a significant investment from both
 

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