Quantum technology (QT) applies quantum mechanical properties such as quantum entanglement, quantum superposition, and No-cloning theorem to quantum systems such as atoms, ions, electrons, photons, or molecules. The exciting possibilities in the field of new quantum technologies extend from quantum computing to precision timing, gravity sensors and imagers, cryptography, navigation, metrology, energy harvesting and recovery, biomedical sensors and imagers, and real-time optimisers all indicate the potential for quantum technologies to provide the basis of a technological revolution.
Quantum computers shall bring power of massive parallel processing, equivalent of supercomputer to a single chip. They can consider different possible solutions to a problem simultaneously, quickly converge on the correct solution without check each possibility individually. This dramatically speed up certain calculations, such as number factoring. Quantum communication refers to a quantum information exchange that uses photons as quantum information carriers over optical fibre or free-space channels.
Quantum Sensing exploit high sensitivity of quantum systems to external disturbances to develop highly sensitive sensors. They can measure Quantities such as time, magnetic and electrical fields, inertial forces, temperature, and many others. They employ quantum systems such as NV centers, atomic vapors, Rydberg atoms, and trapped ions.
Global Quantum computing market is projected to grow more than $14 billion in 2025. Quantum cryptography will be worth $25 billion, and Quantum Sensors Market is expected to reach more than USD 700 million. Quantum is dual use technology, it present both a risk as well as opportunity, has both commercial as well as military applications. Quantum technologies will revolutionize warfare by introducing new capabilities such as quantum computers, quantum radar, and quantum key distribution, increase effectiveness of the current technologies such as quantum optimization, quantum machine learning, quantum cryptoanalysis, sensing capabilities and accuracy of position, navigation, and timing services.
The economic and military advantages are driving intense Quantum race among countries, led by China, United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia. Advantage gained by acquiring the first computer that renders all other computers obsolete would be enormous and bestow economic, military and public health advantages to the winner.
Governments in Canada, China, Europe, and North America are devoting multi-billion-dollar programs to quantum technologies, and commercial investment is flowing as well. The global investment in Quantum technologies is estimated to be in tune of $20 Billion. Leading venture and private equity funds as well as major corporations compete for rapid investments of considerable size. They are also experimenting with different models involving Industry and academis to give thrust to this now strategic field.
To get there, we need to make the world quantum-ready today by focusing on education and workforce development. The availability of talent is also one of biggest challenges for quantum, especially as a field which is scaling up so fast.
For all of these innovations, there is a big need for a pool of people with a technology background, said Freeke Heijman, Director of Strategic Development at QuTech. To keep up with the digital economy, we need to train individuals to equip them with the right skills, but we also need to attract talent and retain it in Europe, she said. That is another reason why we are based within a university, where there’s a continuous flow of students, and where we’re able to set up dedicated programs. For instance, we are building curricula for quantum information science and quantum engineering, so that we get new and more talent on board. The good news is that the interest in technology in general is growing: There are now many more students in computer science, data science, and in quantum physics.
The US government has launched an initiative to get high school pupils interested in quantum information science and quantum computing. Dubbed the National Q-12 Education Partnership, the effort unites 15 quantum-driving leaders in industry and academia. The initiative is supported by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and National Science Foundation (NSF). The latter has already pledged nearly $1 million for various quantum information science (QIS) education efforts, including the Q2Work programme to get QIS resources into classrooms.
Requirements of future Quantum ready workforce
To reach that goal, the industry requires some form of quantum-literate workforce, says University of Colorado, Boulder, quantum physicist Heather Lewandowski. She and her colleagues wanted to find out exactly how that quantum literacy is defined by different companies in terms of the skills they require of new hires, so they decided to conduct an industry-wide study.
In the interviews, which each lasted about an hour, the representatives were asked questions aimed at uncovering the scientific, technical, and “soft” skills required of new hires, as well as the needed quantum-specific knowledge. The interviews also covered hiring practices and on-the-job training opportunities.
Analyzing the answers, the team found two common threads. First, companies were often looking for people that were quantum “aware”—they broadly understood the concepts behind quantum computing, sensing, or communication, and they could talk about those concepts effectively. The candidates didn’t need a deep knowledge of the nitty-gritty equations and theory, however. Second, candidates with hands-on lab skills, such as the ability to make electrical devices, were favored over those with none. “Most of these companies are looking for quantum-literate engineers who can help build quantum devices and make them work reliably,” says Michael Fox, who works in physics education research at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and who conducted all of the interviews.
But bachelor-degree graduates with those two skills can be hard to find. Undergraduate physics majors generally have very little experience with building electrical or quantum devices, while engineering undergraduates often have little to no exposure to quantum mechanics, Lewandowski says.
The problem lies in the design of quantum courses. Quantum physics is typically an advanced course, requiring many prerequisites, which can limit access to majors outside of physics, Fox says. The content of the courses is also outdated, focusing on the quantum physics of the early 1900s rather than the “more exciting” advances of the last decade. Another issue is the hands-off format of most introductory quantum classes; laboratory training often comes at the Ph.D. stage for students who specialize in condensed-matter physics or in atomic, molecular, and optical physics. “Improving our undergraduate instruction is really important,” Lewandowski agrees. “We need more authentic laboratory experiences and refocused introductory quantum-information courses that have no physics prerequisites.”
The trio hope that their study could spur and guide institutions and departments to redesign their courses so that they better address industry needs. Some institutions, including the University of Colorado, Boulder, have started offering “101” quantum information courses, for example, and the team is hopeful that others will follow suit.
Up until now quantum has been a very academic field, rather exclusive, gathering only the top five percent max—but that’s too small of a group. As quantum grows as an industry, it will also require other types of talents, and not just people who write papers in scientific journals. For us the challenge is therefore to train people on other levels while making them familiar with the technology, so as not to keep it only for the happy few that have the brains to grasp quantum physics. This is about opening up to other expertise and to people who may not have studied quantum mechanics early on.
Quantum Workforce Development
Growing an American quantum-smart workforce with expertise in a broad range of physical, information, and engineering sciences is crucial for assuring sustained progress in QIS. However, America’s current educational system typically focuses on discrete disciplinary tracks, rarely emphasizing cross-disciplinary study that equips graduates for complex modern questions and challenges, prominently including QIS. While the responsibility of training students traditionally resides within the academic community, Government agencies and industry can partner with academia to meet the nation’s future needs, writes National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) .
Fundamental research is the main mechanism for generating a qualified workforce in QIS. Within the context of the need for individuals with a broad mix of skills, support for the trans-sector and transdisciplinary approach to research is essential. Students trained in such an environment will be exposed to a diverse yet convergent set of disciplines, along with the associated tools and infrastructure. This will allow students to obtain qualifications and skills required by U.S. industry, national laboratories, and academia. Existing approaches of this nature include special research tracks in academic programs, early career awards from Government agencies, support for focused research groups, and coordinated training with industry.
Recent US legislation will authorize the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create new research centers at universities, federal laboratories, and nonprofit research institutes, according to a committee spokesperson. These research hubs would aim to build alliances between physicists doing fundamental research, engineers who can build devices, and computer scientists developing quantum algorithms. The centers could give academics seeking to develop commercial technologies access to expertise and expensive research tools, says physicist David Awschalom of the University of Chicago in Illinois, one of the blueprint’s authors. “The research needs rapidly outpace any individual lab,” he says.
Using and enhancing these programs can increase the size of the QIS workforce. Furthermore, approaches that synthesize these programs, such as industrial collaborations that engaging with a central, fundamental research program, can prepare students with additional skills crucial to entering the workforce in the private sector to further U.S. leadership in quantum science and technology.
Agencies will be encouraged to expand or develop specific programs that foster workforce development and build off each other’s strengths and mission. A number of agencies already have existing programs, such as the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program and the Accelerating Discovery Program; the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program and the Quantum Science and Engineering Program at the Department of Defense (DOD); Science Undergraduate Laboratory internships, the Graduate Student Research Program, and the Computational Science Graduate Fellowship Program at the Department of Energy
(DOE); and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) joint research centers that combine Government researchers with university students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty. These programs can be enriched, modified, and expanded when driven by agency need. Further improvements may include joining existing efforts of different agencies to increase impact, such as by creating joint early-career programs.
Looking to the longer-term horizon, academic faculty provide the bedrock of training programs. Universities should be encouraged to address the workforce development needs by adding tenured or tenure-track faculty within the interdisciplinary themes associated with QIS and consider Quantum Science and Engineering as a discipline for future concentration, exemplified in steps such as creating new departments or thesis tracks. Other avenues include new undergraduate programs, engagement with industry and Government for internships and externships—predominantly for U.S. persons—and new professional development programs, including encouragement for creation of specialized technical programs. These students become ambassadors of their discipline while following a wide range of different paths in their careers, increasing the societal impact of quantum-science education.
Beyond the university, outreach to a broader audience will be essential. A strong comprehensive program in K-12 computational and scientific thinking featuring computer science and physics must start with developing interest at an early stage. A critical role can be played by industry, professional societies, and agencies with vested interest in appropriate outreach, which can help provide access to novel technologies (for example via cloud-based approaches) as well as developing classroom-based learning opportunities and broader connections to the public over various media platforms. At the same time, informal education tools, such as those found in many museums across the Nation, are effective and complementary to the classroom. These overall efforts work best in coordination with the NSTC Committee on STEM and its subcommittees that address STEM and related education.
Workforce generation efforts and future U.S. workforce needs of the nascent quantum industry should be periodically assessed, through industrial engagement (described in the following section) and work with established STEM efforts. This information can help guide future programs to produce the diverse workforce needed to support the quantum ecosystem. In order to improve the workforce development program over time, an assessment plan of quantum workforce development activities should be encouraged to allow participants to select and expand the most successful strategies and adapt, change, or terminate what does not work. Collaboration with professional societies and organizations, industrial consortia, and local governments are other means of assessing workforce needs.
Role of International talent
National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) released the report The Role of International Talent in Quantum Information Science in Sep 2021 that covers the economic and security implications of quantum science, the quantum workforce and importance of attracting foreign talent and the global quantum enterprise. The report was issued by the Subcommittee on Economic and Security Implications of Quantum Science Committee on Homeland and National Security of the NSTC.
While still a nascent industry, the committee believes that countries that develop quantum technology expertise will have a national security and economic advantage. But developing quantum information science will require nurtuting.
The report states: “Overall, QIST technologies are likely to provide economic and national security advantages to those countries that are successful in leading their development. Therefore, it is imperative the United States plays a leading role in this technology arena, while also working to strengthen collaborations with allies and partners who share similar research values.
This effort requires interfacing with and leveraging an increasingly global and interconnected QIST research community, one that includes broad international academic collaborations, dispersed supply chains for advanced enabling technologies, and a global talent pool. All of these components are essential for expanding the research infrastructure now that would allow us to quickly adopt significant advances with economic or national security implications when they present themselves.”
“Industry, academia, and the U.S. Government currently face a shortage of talent in QIST. While in the long term the National Quantum Initiative programs will generate new workforce talent, there is still an immediate need for talent across multiple sectors and an uncertainty if these programs can meet future needs of academia, national laboratories, industry, and the Federal Government,” the report concludes.
Foreign talent constitutes approximately half of the U.S. graduates in QIST related fields, and flows into the United States from all over the world, according to the report. Most foreign students become American citizens, in other words. The committee points out that foreign students tend to stay in the U.S.: “As of 2017, approximately 70% of foreign national Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) PhD students who graduated from U.S. institutions of higher education stayed in the United States, where they contribute to the U.S. economy and support the global science and technology enterprise.”
Addressing the growing demand for an expert QIST workforce will require both growing the domestic pipeline and promoting the flow of international talent into the United States.
Among other recommendations, the committee said that federal organizations should engage in close collaboration with allies and partners to ensure a vibrant and secure international quantum ecosystem. They also recommend that the National Quantum Coordination Office (NQCO) and NSTC Subcommittee on Quantum Information Science (SCQIS) should augment the National Strategic Overview for Quantum Information Science with a strategic plan for QIST workforce development.
Finally, the committee recommends that “Federal organizations that fund research, development, and acquisition of QIST should develop coordinated, comprehensive technology protection plans to safeguard intellectual capital and property, while accounting for specific mission needs. These measures should address current and evolving methods used to target U.S. technology, while promoting U.S. ideals of open and transparent R&D.”
Quantum Engineering Workforce
Quantum engineering—as this nascent field is now known—is a rapidly evolving area “in which quantum properties are essential to how a device or technology operates,” says Stevan Nadj-Perge, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science. It’s a relatively new term, but the field itself has deep roots in disciplines such as computer science, electrical engineering, materials science, and applied physics. Quantum engineering is now finally coming into its own. “In the same way that electrical engineering split from physics more than a hundred years ago, I think soon quantum engineering will split from more-classical engineering and physics,” says Andrei Faraon (BS ’04), Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering.
Quantum engineering programs, is now being established at leading universities world-wide have to explore the opportunities of quantum technologies. It encompasses both fundamental physics and the broad engineering skill-set necessary to meet the practical challenges of the future. A quantum engineer will be fluent in quantum mechanics, electrical and electronic engineering, systems engineering and computer science as well as other physical sciences.
A new interdisciplinary graduate program at Colorado School of Mines will prepare engineers and scientists to contribute to the growing field of quantum technology – without the four- to six-year time commitment of earning a PhD. Starting in Fall 2020, Mines will offer graduate certificates and thesis/non-thesis master’s degrees in Quantum Engineering, with specialization tracks in hardware and software.
“Quantum technology could revolutionize computing, communication, sensing and more, but critical workforce shortages are threatening to hamper progress,” said Eliot Kapit, associate professor of physics. “You don’t need a PhD to make an impact in quantum engineering – you need quantum literacy, and this program is designed to bring students and working professionals up to speed on key concepts needed by industry today, including cryogenic equipment operation, programming quantum systems and quantum optics setup and operation.”
Accelerated Learning of Quantum Information Concepts
The Army Research Office and National Security Agency’s Laboratory for Physical Sciences recently launched a new research hub “without walls” that will connect scientists and engineers from across sectors and the nation to explore the limits of quantum information technologies. In a broad agency announcement released in April 2021, ARO and LPS describe early research areas to be pursued via the project—called the LPS Qubit Collaboratory, or LQC—and invite proposals to push forward experimental efforts that make sense for cooperative approaches.
The mission of the LQC can be captured in three broad goals: 1) pursue disruptive fundamental research and enabling technologies with a focus on qubit development for quantum computing and other applications (such as sensing); 2) grow deep, collaborative partnerships to tackle the most difficult and relevant long-term problems in quantum information science and technology; and 3) build a quantum workforce of tomorrow through research experiences in government at LPS and at LQC partners. The LQC will offer a mechanism for collaborative research between LPS and academia, industry, FFRDCs, and Government Laboratories to advance foundational and transformative research on challenging problems that have hindered progress in quantum information processing and associated technologies.
There is a pressing need in Quantum Information Science & Technology (QIST) for new and broader talent. One innovation may be in developing approaches to teaching QIST concepts at multiple levels of expertise (but especially undergraduate to mid-career) to engineers, computer scientists, and physicists.
Research proposals are sought in innovative collaborative learning concepts for quantum information science, to include the methodologies, pedagogy, and essential principles that effectively leverage classroom and laboratory experiences to train a diverse quantum workforce of the future. These projects should focus on methods applicable to higher education for the training and retraining of technical individuals that have a range of experiences and knowledge. Practical implementations coupled with evaluation of efficacy are highly desired.
Some examples of research activities may include:
• Comparison of traditional quantum mechanics and emerging QIST laboratory experiments for educational use.
• Implementation and assessment of approaches that promise “hands-on” experience interacting with qubit systems.
• Evaluation of incorporating available cloud-based quantum computing resources and simulators into higher education curriculum.
• Integrated research and assessment of pedagogical variants implemented among student populations with varied training and experiences.
• Support for faculty sabbaticals to conduct research in quantum computing.
• Building an individual’s “quantum intuition” through non-conventional educational opportunities such as games and novel experiences.
Purdue Seeking to Boost Quantum Technology Training
Purdue’s Alexandra Boltasseva, the Ron And Dotty Garvin Tonjes Professor Of Electrical and Computer Engineering leads the workforce development efforts for the QSC. “We are developing programs to train the next generation of quantum scientists,” Boltasseva said in a news release. “We have a great infrastructure and capacity for creating and conducting education and training events. The more education that’s available, the more people and events students have access to, the more likely they are to connect and spark cross-institutional collaboration, which will lead to future advances. Most innovation happens at the intersection of disciplines, and quantum science and technology is extremely multidisciplinary.”
Additionally, Purdue is offering a three-course MicroMaster Program in Quantum Technology Computing, which Stewart says will allow students to get a feel for quantum technology and see if it is something they want to pursue further. Long-term, Stewart says the goal is to continue educating the public on how critical quantum technology is and will be for the future, but also making younger students aware of potential career applications while they are in grade school.
“There’s not a lot of K-12-type education in quantum science and engineering, at least in Indiana, especially, but I know nationally as well,” he said. “The efforts are just starting in this area and how do we kind of get into schools and get kids interested in this? So that’s something that’s on our mind. We’re hoping to especially reach out to underrepresented and underserved groups in urban populations that don’t really have access to this type of information and training.”
Knowledge network to boost Innovation
Innovation in Quantum will also depend on fostering collaboration between the researchers through Knowledge network. The University of Minnesota announced in Oct 2020 today that it will lead a five-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create an international “network-of-networks” that seeks to accelerate the discovery and development of quantum information systems. Quantum sciences are key to creating the next generation of computing and communications systems. The network will be led by University of Minnesota Professor Steven Koester, the Louis John Schnell Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the University’s College of Science and Engineering.
The GQL will link together research networks focused on nano-manufacturing and quantum information to advance the scientific knowledge required to make manufacturable quantum technologies a reality. At the same time, the project will also train a new generation of researchers who use global quantum resources. This training will occur through a series of international meetings, workshops, structured and individual research exchanges, educational bootcamps, and industry interactions designed to bridge the existing knowledge gaps.
“I believe this broad support represents an acknowledgement of the importance of quantum technology and the substantial impact that the GQL is poised to make,” Koester said. The network also includes several international partners including the Nanoplatform Japan (NPJ), the Matter and Light for Quantum Computing (ML4Q) network in Germany, the European OpenSuperQ, and the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE), which is based in the U.S. and includes partners in the Netherlands and Australia.
Strangeworks Launches Quantum Ecosystem to Humanize Quantum Technologies
Strangeworks, Inc., a quantum computing software company dedicated to making quantum computing accessible, announced three key initiatives as part of its mission to foster a global quantum workforce, humanize access to quantum computing and streamline existing quantum production workflows. Combined, these offerings establish Strangeworks as the leading Quantum Service Provider providing scientists, researchers, software developers, and enthusiasts with a complete quantum ecosystem that includes a browser-based development environment, hardware, software, educational resources, and an ever-growing library of quantum code to start from:
Strangeworks QS (Quantum Syndicate) – Strangeworks QS is a collaboration of hardware, software, education, and cloud service providers that are working to develop the implementation and testing of new quantum technologies across all industry verticals to help quantum physicists, data scientists, educators and enterprise developers execute, validate, and benchmark current hardware platforms.
This includes quantum computers based on super conducting, trapped ions, trapped atoms, annealers, and photonic technologies, among others. Collaborators include: 1Qbit, Algorithmiq, Amazon Braket, Atom Computing, Bleximo, Blueqat, D-Wave, Entropica Labs, Hitachi, Honeywell, Horizon Quantum Computing, IBM, IonQ, Microsoft, PlanQK, Qureca, Rigetti, Riverlane, Stack Overflow, Unitary Fund, and Xanadu.
Strangeworks QC (Quantum Computing) – Strangeworks QC is a free quantum computing ecosystem that enables researchers, developers, and enthusiasts to quickly learn, develop and manipulate real quantum code. With Strangeworks QC, users can easily create, organize, and collaborate on quantum computing projects and access libraries of code, frameworks, and languages, including the following: Amazon Braket SDK, Blueqat, Cirq, D-Wave Ocean, Forest, Jupyter Notebooks, Microsoft QDK (Q#), MyQLM, OpenQASM, ProjectQ, Python, Qiskit, Xanadu PennyLane, and Xanadu Strawberry Fields. Over the past year of beta testing, Strangeworks (in collaboration with members from Strangeworks QS) hosted over 20 educational webinars and 3 hackathons using the Strangeworks QC solution.
Strangeworks EQ (Enterprise Quantum) – Strangeworks EQ is a future-proof quantum infrastructure solution that brings the power of Strangeworks QC and Strangeworks QS together with enterprise features including granular security, IP protection, quantum machine access, resource aggregation, custom integrations, private deployments, team and project management, dedicated support, online training, and more
Strangeworks EQ allows organizations to simplify resource allocation for multiple user personas while facilitating credit, cost, and job management through their network of vendors, contractors, and partners. Available as a managed cloud, private cloud, or on-prem hardware solution for government and enterprise customers, Strangeworks EQ offers both classical and quantum integrations, as well as bespoke custom chip integration.
To support the development of a global quantum workforce, the platform comprising of these three initiatives lowers the barriers to entry for developers to explore the emerging quantum landscape, which is set to fundamentally change computing as the world knows it. Hyperion Research is projecting that the global quantum computing (QC) market – worth an estimated $320 million in 2020 – will grow at an anticipated 27% CAGR between 2020 and 2024, reaching approximately $830 million by 2024. With today’s announcement Strangeworks positions itself as the most inclusive source for quantum computing, bringing access to this emerging technology to everyone.
“The quantum industry needs more collaboration, experimentation, and shared discoveries to help build the quantum workforce of tomorrow, today,” said William Hurley (aka whurley), founder and CEO of Strangeworks. “By bringing together an unparalleled network of providers with a hardware-agnostic, software-inclusive, collaborative development environment, Strangeworks provides everything needed for governments, universities, and enterprises to start building their quantum solutions today.”
Strangeworks is based in the US, with a network of collaborators in institutions around the world. To support this global network, Strangeworks will expand its corporate footprint with an office in Munich Germany, the first in a series of new European Union offices. This expansion represents a key step forward in working with its existing and future syndicate members in Europe, and in providing industry leading solutions to its European customers.
Quantum Computing games
Quarks Interactive, a startup in the quantum computing gaming space, is working with the leading quantum scientists and gaming experts to help build one of the first games that will encourage non-scientists to learn and explore the field of quantum computing and quantum science. The ultimate goal of the project, though, is to create a quantum ready world by leveraging the vast and lucrative market of gaming as a way to build a bridge to quantum-curious new audiences.
“My vision is that a world that is quantum literate – by this I mean a world where domain experts from a vast number of fields of study can recognize the power of quantum computation to drastically speed up technological progress in our society,” said Laurentiu Nita, who heads up Quarks Interactive. “To achieve this mission, I decided to tap into the biggest industry out there: the gaming market — worth $180 billion in 2019 alone — so that I can spread quantum literacy.
Players in this game, called Quantum Odyssey, must use quantum computing know-how to save the world. He added that the game is a well crafted gaming experience, with a non-linear story. “The premise is simple, a team of experts — with the exception of a very funny misplaced character called ‘Les’ — is sent on an Elon Musk ‘Starship type’ ship to recover an alien artefact that’s been broadcasting prime numbers in a manner Carl Sagan would be happy about,” said Nita. “Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and the crew gets stranded in space on board of the science vessel.”
Players then have to work together to survive.
“The team has to work together with a crazy AI called AXIOM on board in order to figure out how to grow food in space, create interferometers, find materials and a way to go home or even take their chances to recover the object,” said Nita. “For the readers familiar to quantum computation it is obvious why building quantum tech on board would be the most effective way to accomplish the mission, while for anybody not familiar with what quantum computation has the power to unlock, this video game is absolutely perfect to play.”
Referencs and Resources also include: