A Quantum Workforce Takes More Than a STEM Background

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A more quantum-literate workforce is needed

Key points…

+  Researchers from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the University of Colorado Boulder suggested steps that need to be taken after interviewing managers at more than 20 quantum technology companies in the US… The impetus for the study was to understand the types of entry-level positions these companies offer and the educational pathways that might lead into those jobs, according to RIT. The researchers found that while the companies still seek employees with traditional STEM degrees, they want the candidates to understand fundamental concepts in quantum information science and technology.

“It’s a growing industry that will produce new sensors, imaging, communication, computing technologies, and more,” he said. “A lot of the technologies are in a research and development phase, but as they start to move toward commercialization and mass production, you will have end-users who are trying to figure out how to apply the technology. They will need technical people on their end that are fluent enough with the ideas that they can make use of it.”

+  What companies want in quantum candidates

+  The study’s authors said colleges and universities should offer introductory, multidisciplinary courses with few prerequisites that will allow software engineering, computer science, physics, and other STEM majors to learn the core concepts together. Zwickl said providing quantum education opportunities to students across disciplines will be important because quantum technology has the opportunity to disrupt a wide range of fields.

+  But bachelor-degree graduates with those two skills can be hard to find due to the way quantum courses are designed. 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, said researcher Heather Lewandowski, a quantum physicist at UC Boulder, Physics reported.

+  Quantum physics is typically an advanced course, requiring many prerequisites, which can limit access to majors outside of physics, Fox said. The content of the courses is also outdated, focusing on the quantum physics of the early 1900s rather than the “more exciting” advances of the last decade, Physics reported. Another issue is most of the introductory quantum classes have a hands-off format.

+  Zwickl said he is hoping to apply many of the lessons learned from the study to RIT’s curriculum. He is in the process of developing two new introductory RIT courses in quantum information and science as well as an interdisciplinary minor in the field, the university said.

Source:  TechRepublic.  Esther Shein,  A more quantum-literate workforce is needed…

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