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FOQUS formed to draw ‘underrepresented students’ to quantum

By Dan O'Shea posted 01 Aug 2023

Addressing the quantum skills gap requires government, academia, and industry to think creatively about how to foster talent growth and attract new workers to the quantum sector. A number of notable programs have answered that call, but the latest, being led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DoE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, carries a special focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Brookhaven, including the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and the Office of Educational Programs, the Co-design Center for Quantum Advantage (C2QA), the DoE Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS), and the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center teamed up recently to launch Faculty Outreach for Quantum-Interested UniversitieS (FOQUS) program. The aim is to break down barriers, foster networking, and prepare and develop underrepresented students from all STEM disciplines to enter the world of quantum information science (QIS), according to a Brookhaven news post.

This collective program, which had its first meeting back in June, encourages university faculty to combine and expand their networks and leverage programs offered by DoE to engage students and teachers. The June event brought faculty, postdocs, and students from minority serving institutions (MSIs) to Brookhaven Lab interactive workshops, lectures, tours, and networking activities, culminating in a presentation of mock proposals from interdisciplinary groups that formed during the conference. Mentors provided support as university faculty framed their approaches to enter the QIS research and educational ecosystem.

 “Quantum computing is so dependent on research right now, even within IBM,” said Kayla Lee, a strategic alliances manager at IBM Quantum and co-founder of the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center, according to the Brookhaven post.. “We collaborate with universities and national laboratories, but we need to make sure we’re tapping into every part of that ecosystem to meet these huge goals. It’s really cool to work with technology like this at the ground floor. Nobody knows exactly what it will look like in the end or how long it will take to get there. It offers so many opportunities, and it gives us the chance to be intentional in how we shape this community.”

Dan O’Shea has covered telecommunications and related topics including semiconductors, sensors, retail systems, digital payments and quantum computing/technology for over 25 years.

Categories: quantum computing

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