Launch of an undergraduate research grant in quantum sciences

October 28, 2021 – The Open Quantum Initiative (OQI), a working group of students, researchers, educators and leaders from the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE), announced the launch of the OQI Undergraduate Fellowship as part of its efforts to advocate for and contribute to the development of a diverse and inclusive quantum workforce.

The primary mission of the OQI is to defend the development of a more inclusive quantum community. The fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) remain predominantly white and male – only around 20% of bachelor’s degrees in physics, engineering and computer science are awarded to women, barely 6% of all STEM bachelor’s degrees are awarded to Africans. American students and 12% of all STEM bachelor’s degrees are awarded to Hispanic students. But since the field of quantum science is still relatively new compared to other STEM subjects, groups like the OQI see a chance to make the foundations of the field diverse and accessible to everyone from the start.

“In many ways, we are building a national workforce from the ground up,” says David Awschalom, Liew family professor of molecular engineering and physics at the University of Chicago, senior scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory , director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange, and director of Q-NEXT, a quantum information science center in the Department of Energy led by Argonne. “There are incredible opportunities here to make the field of quantum engineering as inclusive and fair as possible from the start, creating a strong ecosystem for the future. “

At the heart of the OQI’s efforts is a new scholarship starting in the summer of 2022. For 10 weeks, the scholarship holders will live and work in an institution that is a member or partner of the CQE, carrying out a research project in the science and engineering of the OQI. quantum information under the guidance of a mentor. Students will have many opportunities to interact with other fellows in their cohort during the summer research period and throughout the following academic year.

Through this scholarship, students can deepen their understanding of quantum science, benefit from professional guidance, and develop their professional networks with leaders from academia and industry. The OQI will also aim to offer future research experiences over the following summers, as well as provide mentorship opportunities for future fellows, helping to build a larger and diverse quantum community over time.

With the support of CQE member and partner institutions including University of Chicago, Argonne, Fermilab, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University and Ohio State University , along with the NSF Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Hybrid Quantum Architectures and Networks (HQAN) and Q-NEXT, this scholarship helps to make diversity, equity and inclusion priorities at the heart of the development of the quantum ecosystem.

The OQI launched the stock exchange alongside a workshop on September 22 and 23. The OQI workshop, titled “Building a Diverse Quantum Ecosystem,” brought together CQE students, researchers and professionals from different institutions, including industry, to discuss current issues and obstacles in the science of quantum information as the field grows. Institutional change actors also shared what they learned from their own efforts to increase representation. A panel on education and workforce development at the upcoming Chicago Quantum Summit on November 4 will continue the discussion on building inclusive ramps for the field of quantum information science.

“For quantum science and engineering to reach their full potential, they must be accessible to everyone,” says Kayla Lee, Academic Alliance manager at IBM Quantum and keynote speaker at the OQI workshop. “The OQI Undergraduate Scholarship provides explicit support to historically marginalized communities, which is crucial for increasing quantum engagement in a way that creates a more diverse and equitable field. “

Applications for the OQI Undergraduate Scholarship are open now.

Source: Chicago Quantum Exchange

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