Workforce Development

developing the new quantum workforce

Workforce Development

The Quantum Institute within NSF QuBBE led by Valerie Goss will prepare women and men for quantum science careers and produce a diverse, well-trained workforce to meet the needs of a burgeoning field. Our location in Chicago places our students in close proximity to active quantum research and a growing quantum technology sector. The centro-centric pairing of graduates with research careers through the Chicago Quantum Exchange, P33 and other corporate partnerships supports NSF’s investments in the National Quantum Initiative. CSU students have already begun to engage with the Exchange and P33 through their various sponsored events.

The Quantum Institute will leverage Chicago’s existing resources and expertise to uniquely engage members from underrepresented communities in quantum training. The Quantum Institute will partner with Chicago’s southside and south suburban communities to create economic opporutnity in STEM. CSU and UChicago, both along the city’s southern corridor, are uniquely poised to increase the pool of quantum focused students from that area. NSF QuBBE will empower economic growth, nurture creativity, and drive sustainability in quantum technologies on the South Side of Chicago

The Quantum Institute will leverage the novel convergent training of the NSF QuBBE research strategy; postdocs and graduate students will be trained through the research thrusts, and undergraduates will be introduced to coordinated research efforts across NSF QuBBE partners. By operating closely with the larger NSF QuBBE project, the Quantum Institute will permit students of all levels to engage reciprocally with all NSF QuBBE facilities. In this way, NSF QuBBE is poised to support the growth of minorities from a diverse demographic providing workforce development for women, Blacks, Hispanics, as well as other students. CSU will administer our training program to CSU students and to students of institutions inside and outside NSF QuBBE capturing a wide range of participants. In addition, CSU has existing alliances and consortiums (e.g., Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, Center for Excellence in Stem Education and Research, CSU-PREP). CSU is a minority serving institution (MSI, 95%) with a student population of 70% women, 87% Black, and 7% Latino. CSU reaches traditionally underrepresented students in STEM and has a strong record of providing them with the education they need to succeed. The Quantum Institute (and NSF QuBBE more broadly) will advance the field of quantum science while improving representation in STEM fields. Our vision is to design and foster strong collaboration to support project ownership and to promote student engagement in outreach, as all of these aspects are known to enhance learning and improve student retention.

Approach

  • The Quantum "Gate-Way" concept is an integrated educational program that connects mentors from industry with students in terminal degree programs while exploiting these relationships to shape our educational programs from the ground up to train a quantum-ready workforce. The structure is designed as a pipeline program with multiple on-ramps permitting students to move through our STEM camps within the Quantum Academy into traditional college degree programs, permitting students with college degrees to exploit our new 1-year Q-Cert bridge program to prepare for the quantum economy, and to prepare students for high postgraduate degrees at CSU and UChicago.
  • Quantum Certificate (Q-Cert) Program: The Quantum Institute will create a 1-year post-baccalaureate bridge program to prepare students for the quantum economy, culminating in a Quantum Certificate. To provide laboratory support and training, the Quantum Institute will utilize existing quantum optics laboratory equipment, as well as atomic force microscope/scanning tunneling microscope equipment at CSU. Similar to the QISE-NET model at UChicago, Q-Cert cohorts will comprise teams of triplets - an undergraduate student, a faculty member, and an industry partner.
  • Quantum Learning Assistant Program: The Quantum Institute will develop and implement a new Quantum Learning Assistant (QLA) program at both UChicago and CSU, modeled after the NSF-sponsored Learning Assistant program at CSU. Learning Assistants (LAs) are undergraduate STEM majors at CSU who learn about pedagogy and inquiry-based instruction and work as facilitators (peer-to-peer) in CSU classes. The QLA model at CSU will involve Q-Cert program students who will serve as QLAs to support undergraduate student learning in advanced upper-level physics courses (e.g., Quantum Mechanics I and II). This approach reinforces the concepts for Q-Cert students and facilitates discussion within classes. At UChicago, the QLA model will be implemented in a similar fashion, but aimed at promoting convergence between fields rather than direct training. All graduate students funded for at least 1 year by NSF QuBBE will be required to serve as a QLA by auditing a course outside of their field. For example, a biology graduate student might serve as a QLA in an undergraduate quantum course; they ask questions and keep the discussion moving even as they learn the material themselves. Similarly, a physics or engineering student may serve as a QLA while auditing an ion channel graduate course in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. A QLA will serve as a role model, facilitator, and ambassador. Importantly, this immersive experience will inculcate an appreciation for questions in the other field while compelling the student to learn to "speak the language" to interact across disciplinary boundaries.
  • Quantum Master’s Program: One long-term goal is to establish and offer a Master’s Program at CSU. Research training will be completed at CSU in collaboration with UChicago, capitalizing on learning models and modules in development in the field. At least one new teaching faculty member will be needed, a quantum expert who has experience working with students from a diverse population. This new faculty member will work closely with Drs. Goss and Peters to establish successful experimental "homes" or research labs focused on knowledge transfer tools for employment or advanced degree training.