MSU to Help Create National Quantum Technology Curriculum

Michigan State University in East Lansing has partnered with four other universities in the Midwest to develop a national model for undergraduate curriculum in quantum technologies, an emerging field.
computing technology
MSU is helping to develop and undergraduate curriculum in quantum technologies. // Image courtesy of Michigan State University

Michigan State University in East Lansing has partnered with four other universities in the Midwest to develop a national model for undergraduate curriculum in quantum technologies, an emerging field.

Members of MSU’s Center for Quantum Computing, Science, and Engineering (MSU-Q) are working with faculty from Ohio State University, the University of Chicago, Chicago State University, and the University of Illinois. The curriculum will be called QuSTEAM (Quantum Information Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics).

The cohort was chosen to participate in the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator. The universities were granted $700,000 for the plan, which begins this month. Phase one will take nine months. After an additional two years of phases 2a and 2b, the team will implement the curriculum.

Quantum technology is a class of technology that works by using the principles of quantum mechanics, or the physics of sub-atomic particles. The curriculum is designed to send scientific innovation into practice. The NSF wants its initiative to decrease the time and distance between research, problem-solving, and deliverables designed to benefit society on a massive scale.

“We already have an engaged cohort of scientists and engineers across disciplines in MSU-Q,” says Angela Wilson, John A. Hannah distinguished professor of chemistry in the College of Natural Science and director of the center. “The opportunity for MSU-Q to have a major role in developing a national quantum workforce education and training curriculum is incredibly exciting and speaks volumes about the strength not only of MSU-Q, but our outstanding science and engineering educators as well.”

MSU-Q MSU offers research, training, education, and workforce development in quantum computing, science, and engineering. Researchers at MSU-Q began exploring how to read qubits, the fundamental component in next-generation quantum computers, in a variety of materials systems more than two decades ago.

The center also will participate in the powerhouse cohort that will tackle one of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas to transform society: quantum leap, or the abrupt transition from one energy state to another in an electron, atom, or molecule. Quantum leap is expected to be used in everyday and high-tech computers to revolutionize technology. The ability to manipulate quantum materials is a prerequisite to next-generation technologies.

“Quantum information is not a simple field, and education in this area is not moving as quickly as the technology evolution,” Wilson says. “We are pursuing this project to ensure that we have a future workforce that is well-equipped to move this technology forward and be well prepared to utilize it in a broad range of fields.”

Wilson works in the development of quantum mechanical methods for thermochemical and spectroscopic predictions. Her computational chemistry research includes the design of new drugs, catalysts, and metal organic frameworks. She will serve as a chemistry subject matter expert for the cohort.

Melanie Cooper, professor of chemistry and an MSU Lappan-Phillips professor of science education, helped design the MSU CLUE (chemistry, life, the universe, and everything) course for general chemistry and is internationally renowned for her 3-D learning model, 3DL. She will provide expertise in chemistry education.

Andrew Christlieb, MSU foundation professor and chair of the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering, helped found the department’s program and works with some of the largest data sets in the world. He is co-director of the center and will provide computational science and engineering expertise.

“Involved in this effort are some of the largest universities in the country, providing large, diverse test beds for curriculum development,” Wilson says. “The curriculum is being designed from the ground up by pairing top science and engineering education experts with experts in quantum information, many of those who are working at MSU-Q, to provide a novel, accessible education program that will be available to universities and students across the nation.”