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Quantum Science Center concludes second annual summer school in style

QSC Workforce Development Lead Alexandra Boltasseva welcomed attendees to the summer school before QSC Interim Director Travis Humble’s introductory remarks. Credit: Yuheng Chen/Purdue University

Building off the blueprint of last year’s all-virtual event, the Quantum Science Center held its second annual summer school in a hybrid format on May 8–12, 2022. The agenda included online and in-person activities hosted by core QSC partner Purdue University.

A total of 122 participants — including 50 graduate students, nine postdoctoral researchers and six undergraduate students — attended the event in person, whereas about 20–40 people joined each session virtually via a livestream on the Purdue Quantum Science and Engineering Institute’s Quantum Coffeehouse YouTube channel.

“The quantum summer school is our signature event focused on building a broad and diverse quantum workforce in this country,” said QSC Workforce Development Lead and Purdue Professor Alexandra Boltasseva. “It’s been two years since most of us have planned or attended an in-person event, and even with all the success of last year’s school, it’s still such a nice feeling to have people on campus.”

In his opening remarks, QSC Interim Director Travis Humble noted that this year’s summer school was the first chance many QSC members have had to interact in person. He also encouraged participants to attend as many sessions as possible to form lifelong professional connections during the school’s “days of learning,” which were sponsored by IBM Quantum, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and ColdQuanta.

“It’s important to align industry priorities with expertise emerging from the workforce development pipeline through these types of partnerships,” Humble said. “We need the best and brightest scientists and engineers from every discipline to advance quantum research and maintain a robust quantum ecosystem in the United States.”

By providing attendees with networking opportunities with peers, professors and potential employers, the organizers hope to facilitate a consistent influx of new professionals into the quantum workforce. These conversations also allowed presenters and participants to explore research interests in line with the mission of the QSC, a U.S. Department of Energy National Quantum Information Science Research Center headquartered at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The event’s 22 lectures, five panel discussions and three hands-on workshops featured leaders in the field of quantum information science from academia (Duke University, Harvard University, Purdue and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology), government (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and ORNL) and industry (ColdQuanta, IBM Quantum, IonQ, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft and QuEra).

Speakers covered scientific topics related to quantum materials, programmable systems, modeling and simulation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, dark matter detection, next-generation technologies, and more along with career skills such as professional development and science communication strategies. Additionally, presentations from the QSC’s postdoctoral research award winners highlighted cross-disciplinary collaborations enabled by early career scientists.

Following a series of poster sessions, Zhujing Xu and Norhan Eassa of Purdue, Kester Anyang of the Illinois Institute of Technology and Meenambika Gowrishankar of ORNL and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville were all named winners of the poster competition for their presentations on various quantum sensors and algorithms.

  • Throughout a series of poster sessions, students presented quantum research results to peers and professionals. Credit: David Mason/Purdue University

  • For the first time, poster presenters had the opportunity to share their work at an in-person QSC event. Credit: David Mason/Purdue University

  • The QSC summer school provided students with a platform to practice their presenting skills. Credit: David Mason/Purdue University

  • Next-generation quantum scientists and engineers are already contributing to cutting-edge topics such as dark matter research. Credit: David Mason/Purdue University

  • Throughout a series of poster sessions, students presented quantum research results to peers and professionals. Credit: David Mason/Purdue University

  • For the first time, poster presenters had the opportunity to share their work at an in-person QSC event. Credit: David Mason/Purdue University

  • The QSC summer school provided students with a platform to practice their presenting skills. Credit: David Mason/Purdue University

  • Next-generation quantum scientists and engineers are already contributing to cutting-edge topics such as dark matter research. Credit: David Mason/Purdue University

The final day focused on the collaborative aspect of quantum research with support from the Emerging Frontiers Center: Crossroads of Quantum and AI, which is part of Purdue’s Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. To conclude the event, Mung Chiang, Purdue’s Executive Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering, reflected on the current state of quantum research and possibilities for the future.

“Ongoing efforts to build quantum computers are important, and so are other topics such as quantum key distribution and quantum sensing,” Chiang said. “We are keenly aware of the intellectual vibrancy, importance and diversity of different types of quantum research.”

Throughout the summer school, QSC leadership, speakers and attendees expressed gratitude for the local organizing committee, which included many Purdue staff and members of the QSC’s Postdoctoral and Graduate Student Association.

The QSC, a DOE National Quantum Information Science Research Center led by ORNL, performs cutting-edge research at national laboratories, universities, and industry partners to overcome key roadblocks in quantum state resilience, controllability, and ultimately the scalability of quantum technologies. QSC researchers are designing materials that enable topological quantum computing; implementing new quantum sensors to characterize topological states and detect dark matter; and designing quantum algorithms and simulations to provide a greater understanding of quantum materials, chemistry, and quantum field theories. These innovations enable the QSC to accelerate information processing, explore the previously unmeasurable, and better predict quantum performance across technologies. For more information, visit qscience.org.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science