N.C. A&T Awarded NSF Funds as Part of Initiative to Advance Quantum Science Education

By Jordan Howse / 09/17/2021 Research and Economic Development, College of Science and Technology

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Sept. 17, 2021) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has been awarded $907,200 from the National Science Foundation as part of a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional program taking its next step to develop a diverse, effective and contemporary quantum-ready workforce.

Led by The Ohio State University, QuSTEAM: Convergence Undergraduate Education in Quantum Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, was awarded a $5 million cooperative agreement over a two-year period from the NSF Convergence Accelerator following QuSTEAM’s initial assessment and needs-finding period, Phase I, the award will fund Phase II’s objective to build transformative, modular quantum science degree and certification programs.

The rapidly evolving field of quantum information science will enable technological breakthroughs and have far-reaching economic and societal impacts — what researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology call the second quantum revolution. Unlocking that potential, however, also requires a foundational shift in teaching and growing a quantum-ready workforce.

QuSTEAM brings together scientists and educators from more than 20 universities, national laboratories, community colleges and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to develop a research-based quantum education curriculum and prepare the next generation of quantum information scientists and engineers.

Raymond Samuel, M.D, Ph.D., N.C. A&T professor of biology in the College of Science and Technology, will lead the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center faculty members who will be engaged in the development and implementation of undergraduate quantum information science and engineering (QISE) courses. As director of the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center Education Working Group, Samuel and associate director of the N.C. A&T Quantum Research Center, he works to develop resources and curriculum for HBCU students and create a space for students and faculty of these institutions to learn about this new quantum technology that fosters a sense of belonging.  Samuel also serves on the QuSTEAM Leadership team.

“The QuSTEAM partnership is in synergy with the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center's strategic plan to engage HBCU students and faculty in the process of enhancing the diversity of the quantum workforce,” said Samuel. “The participation of faculty members from 12 HBCUs in the QISE undergraduate course development will ensure our students reap immediate benefits from this undertaking."

QuSTEAM is led by institution Ohio State University, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, all of which have partnered with local community colleges and regional partners with established transfer pipelines to engage underrepresented student populations.

To best develop a quantum-ready workforce, QuSTEAM identified the establishment of a common and modular template for an undergraduate minor and associate certificate programs as the near-term priority. The team will build curricula consisting of in-person, online and hybrid courses for these degree and certification programs — including initial offerings of the critical classes and modules at the respective universities while continuing to assess evolving workforce needs.

QuSTEAM plans to begin offering classes in spring 2022, with a full slate of core classes for a minor during the 2022-23 academic year. The modular QuSTEAM curriculum will provide educational opportunities for two- and four-year institutions, minority-serving institutions, and industry, while confronting and dismantling longstanding biases in STEM education.

Media Contact Information: jmhowse@ncat.edu

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