In September 2020, IBM announced the Quantum Education and Research Initiative for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
The IBM-HBCU Quantum Center is a multi-year investment aimed at developing talent at HBCUs from all science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines for the quantum future.
The IBM-HBCU Quantum Center, managed by Howard University, provides access to its computers and collaboration in science, education and public relations. It will focus on student development through support and funding of research opportunities, curriculum development, employee representation and special projects.
“Our faculty and our students look forward to working with our peer institutions through the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center. We look forward to sharing best practices and working together to prepare students for participation in a quantum-capable workforce, ”said Dr. Wayne AI Frederick, President of Howard University.
IBM also announced that it will invest $ 100 million in technology, assets, resources and skills development through partnerships with additional HBCUs as part of the IBM Skills Academy Academic Initiative.
“We believe we need a diverse talent pipeline from the next generation of technology leaders from HBCUs to expand opportunities for diverse populations,” said Carla Grant Pickens, chief global diversity and inclusion officer at IBM. “Diversity and inclusion are what drive innovation, and students at HBCUs will be able to make an important contribution to driving innovations for the future such as quantum computing, the cloud and artificial intelligence.”
HBCUs in the quantum center
In February, Dr. Kayla Lee, who campaigned for the initiative that brought quantum computing resources and a sense of community among HBCUs that ten more colleges had joined.
Lee, a systems biology Ph.D. from Harvard University and Hampton University Undergrad, is a third generation HBCU graduate. As a product manager at IBM Research, she leads strategic initiatives to build – and grow – a global quantum computing community.
“When IBM launched the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center last September, our goal was to work with historically black colleges and universities to promote not only quantum information science but also STEM-based opportunities for these traditionally underrepresented communities,” said Lee .
Lee joined IBM Quantum in 2018. As an industry advisor, she worked with Fortune 500 companies to research quantum computing applications in a variety of industries including healthcare and life sciences, financial services, media, and entertainment. She leads initiatives to expand the IBM Quantum community with new global partnerships.
“I am motivated to make complex, scientific topics such as quantum computing and new technologies not only accessible, but also interesting. I work with students, researchers and customers around the world to overcome technical challenges with new computer technologies, ”says Lee. “As a proud graduate of Hampton University, I was excited to open the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center, a multi-year investment by IBM to bring HBCUs together to build quantum research and education capabilities. This center will drive diversity and inclusion in quantum computing and offer new opportunities for historically underrepresented communities. “
The IBM Quantum Experience
The IBM Quantum Network is a community of more than 140 partners, comprised of Fortune 500 companies, academia, startups and research laboratories that work with IBM to advance quantum computing. There are more than 300,000 registered users of the IBM Quantum Composer and IBM Quantum Lab programming tools. IBM is committed to making quantum software easier to use and more accessible. These tools, which replace the earlier IBM Quantum Experience, allow you to build quantum circuits and conduct experiments that can ultimately help accelerate research development and applications with IBM’s quantum computing software.
The IBM Quantum community executes more than 1 billion hardware circuits on real hardware and simulators every day using Qiskit, an open source software development kit developed by IBM for working with pulses, circuits and algorithms at the quantum computer level. Researchers have published more than 400 research papers using results from IBM Quantum Systems.
We experience the advantages of classic computing every day. However, there are challenges that today’s systems can never solve. We don’t have enough computing power on earth to tackle problems of a certain size and complexity. To have a chance of solving some of these problems, we need the computing power that a quantum could offer.
Quantum computers, with their completely different way of processing information than today’s classic computers, could drive the development of breakthroughs in science, drugs to save lives, machine learning methods to diagnose diseases more quickly, materials to manufacture more efficient devices and structures, and financial strategies to help you retire live, and algorithms to quickly direct resources like ambulances.
How does it work?
All computer systems rely on a fundamental ability to store and manipulate information. Current computers control individual bits that store data as binary 0 and 1 states. Quantum computers use quantum mechanical phenomena to manage data. To do this, they use quantum bits or qubits.
Qubits are the basic elements of a quantum computer that process information. Three quantum mechanical properties – superposition, entanglement and interference – are used in quantum computing to manipulate the state of a qubit.
Overlay refers to a combination of states that we would normally describe independently. To make a classic analogy, if you play two musical notes at the same time, you will hear the two notes superimposed. This phenomenon gives qubits their exponential computing space potential.
Entanglement is a known counterintuitive quantum phenomenon that describes behavior that we never see in the classical world. Entangled particles behave as a system in a way that cannot be explained with classical logic – what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”.
Finally, quantum states can be subject to interference due to a phenomenon known as phase. Quantum interference can be understood in a similar way to wave interference; When two waves are in phase their amplitudes add up, and when they are out of phase their amplitudes cancel each other out. This helps users determine the accuracy of an execution of a qubit or group of qubits.