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Accelerating Society’s Quantum Leap: MSU-Q Contributes To Innovative Curriculum

Image of a futuristic CPU

Members from Michigan State University’s Center for Quantum Computing, Science and Engineering, or MSU-Q, will join forces with four leading universities in the Midwest to develop QuSTEAM (Quantum Information Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), a national model for innovative undergraduate curriculum in the emerging field of quantum technologies.

Image of NSF Convergence Accelerator

MSU researchers and scientists from four leading universities in the Midwest will participate in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) newest and most unique structure, the Convergence Accelerator, or C-Accel. Credit: NSF

The multi-institution cohort was chosen to participate in the National Science Foundation’s newest and most unique structure, the Convergence Accelerator, or C-Accel.

Beginning this October, the $700,000 grant will converge the MSU-Q team with interdisciplinary faculty from Ohio State University, the University of Chicago, Chicago State University and the University of Illinois to begin the nine-month, Phase 1 development of QuSTEAM. After an additional two years of Phase 2a and 2b efforts, the team will implement the new curriculum.

The NSF’s latest launching pad aims to rocket scientific innovation into practice. Fueled by cutting-edge research and team-centered project design, C-Accel will collapse the time and distance between research, problem-solving and deliverables designed to benefit society on a massive scale, and fast.

“We already have an engaged cohort of scientists and engineers across disciplines in MSU-Q,” said Angela Wilson, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in the College of Natural Science and MSU-Q director. “The opportunity for MSU-Q to have a major role in developing a national quantum workforce education and training curriculum is incredibly exciting and speaks volumes about the strength not only of MSU-Q, but our outstanding science and engineering educators as well.”

Image of qubit box.

“Boxes” such as this are used in the lab of Johannes Pollanen, associate director of MSU-Q, to study electron qubits, the fundamental building block of future quantum computers. Credit: Johannes Pollanen

MSU-Q is one of the world’s largest centers for research, training, education and workforce development in quantum computing, science and engineering. In fact, many of today’s quantum technologies are possible because researchers at MSU-Q began exploring how to read qubits, the fundamental component in next-generation quantum computers, in a variety of materials systems over two decades ago, according to the MSU-Q website.

It’s no surprise that MSU-Q will participate in the powerhouse cohort that will be tackling one of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas primed to transform society: Quantum Leap.

From the computers we use every day to the health and business sectors, Quantum Leap will exploit quantum mechanics to revolutionize today’s technologies. While the ability to manipulate quantum materials is prerequisite to the next-generation technologies, making this leap requires a similar leap in quantum education, according to Wilson.

Image of a Ramsey fringe measurement of a qubit made of superconducting materials.

This image is of a Ramsey fringe measurement of a qubit made of superconducting materials was taken in Pollanen’s Laboratory for Hybrid Quantum Systems. The colors represent the probability of being in the |0> or |1> state of the qubit. Credit: Pollanen Lab.

“Quantum information is not a simple field, and education in this area is not moving as quickly as the technology evolution,” Wilson said. “We are pursuing this project to ensure that we have a future workforce that is well-equipped to move this technology forward and be well prepared to utilize it in a broad range of fields.”

Wilson is a pioneer in the development of quantum mechanical methods for thermochemical and spectroscopic predictions, while her computational chemistry research includes the design of new drugs, catalysts and metal organic frameworks. She will serve as a chemistry subject matter expert for the cohort.

Along with Wilson, two additional MSU-Q members and leaders in the field of chemistry education and computer science will help lead the Quantum Leap efforts.

Melanie Cooper, professor of chemistry and an MSU Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education, helped design the evidence based MSU CLUE (Chemistry, Life the Universe and Everything) course for general chemistry and is internationally renowned for her three-dimensional learning model 3DL. Cooper will provide expertise in chemistry education.

Andrew Christlieb, MSU Foundation Professor and chair of the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering (CMSE), was instrumental in founding MSU’s CMSE program and works with some of the largest data sets in the world. The MSU-Q co-director will provide computational science and engineering expertise.

The multi-disciplinary cohort’s experience in quantum research and STEAM curriculum, along with the incredible breadth of knowledge held by the MSU-Q team, is poised to create one of the nation’s leading modular curriculums that seamlessly blends modern pedagogy with the workforce needs of a rapidly expanding quantum information science and technology industry.

“Involved in this effort are some of the largest universities in the country, providing large, diverse test beds for curriculum development,” Wilson said. “The curriculum is being designed from the ground up by pairing top science and engineering education experts with experts in quantum information, many of those who are working at MSU-Q, to provide a novel, accessible education program that will be available to universities and students across the nation.”

For more information about MSU-Q’s role in NSF C-Accel, please visit: https://nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2040581&HistoricalAwards=false.

Banner image: The MSU-Q team will be key contributors to the nation’s first curriculum focused on training future scientists and engineers to design and build next-generation computers with quantum processors, like this futuristic CPU. Credit: Shutterstock/Yarchanka Siarhei

By Val Osowski via MSU Today 


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