(Nov. 10, 2021) On October 12, 2021, the Laboratory for Physical Sciences (LPS) Qubit Collaboratory (LQC) hosted a virtual Workshop on Gaps in Postsecondary Quantum Education and Training. The workshops brought together stakeholders from academia, industry, and government to discuss developing collaborations to fix the educational and training gaps in quantum information science (QIS).
Many common needs arose in the discussions, and some of the major ones included:
- Quantum software engineering. Many companies expressed the difficulty of hiring software engineers and identified it as an ongoing issue that would persist for the foreseeable future. Often, quantum physicists know how to program, but the kind of programming done in the lab is usually for a single user. It is much more challenging to find physicists who are also trained in software engineering, who can write well-documented code that is shared among many users in larger projects. Conversely, many software engineers do not know QIS, and so they do not apply for QIS jobs, despite many positions requiring no knowledge of QIS. Teaching software engineers the basics would be helpful. It is also challenging to hire the best software engineers because of salary competition.
- Quantum 101. Historically, QIS education has focused on graduate students. As more and more universities are creating majors, minors, and specializations in QIS, however, there is a need for freshmen-level QIS courses without many prerequisites. Some of the speakers shared their own courses along these lines.
- Broadening participation among underrepresented groups. This has been identified in many workshops, but another component that arose in the workshop was the need to bring quantum information science to primarily undergraduate institutions (PUI’s). There was a recognition that many students choose a field because it was what was available to them at their university. Many PUI’s lack QIS experts across the “full stack” and the resources to purchase expensive teaching laboratory equipment, so collaborations may be needed for students to gain broad QIS skills.
- Hands-on hardware experience. Laboratory equipment for teaching quantum hardware may be prohibitively expensive. Even if a university makes an investment, it may only invest in one type of qubit technology. Internships and collaborations may be needed for students to have hands-on experiences with various types of quantum hardware. At the undergraduate level, there is a need for affordable QIS labs that are teachable by the majority of physics professors; many existing labs for quantum mechanics do not have a QIS focus. Training programs for faculty members to teach introductory hardware courses would broaden participation. The COVID-19 pandemic has limited access to in-person, hands-on experiences.
To read more about the workshop click here.