Open Quantum Initiative Undergraduate Fellowship allows students to join quantum research labs around the Midwest, planting the seeds for a diverse and inclusive quantum workforce

Open Quantum Initiative Undergraduate Fellowship

More than a dozen college students from underrepresented backgrounds will be spending the summer conducting quantum information science and engineering research in labs across the Midwest thanks to the Open Quantum Initiative Undergraduate Fellowship, a new program that seeks to make the burgeoning quantum workforce a more diverse and inclusive community from the start.

The Open Quantum Initiative is a group of researchers, educators, and leaders among Chicago Quantum Exchange that champions the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in quantum science. Their new fellowship recently garnered almost half a million dollars of support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, affirming the importance of increasing the diversity of scientists and engineers in quantum information science and engineering. The Chicago Quantum Exchange is anchored at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering.

The new fellowship program was founded in large part by graduate students and early-career researchers and seeks to make the expanding quantum workforce a more diverse and inclusive community by helping undergraduate students from a broad variety of backgrounds gain hands-on experience. Almost 70% of this year’s fellowship students are Hispanic, Latino, or Black, and half are the first in their family to go to college. In addition, while the field of quantum science and engineering is generally majority-male, the 2022 cohort is half female.

“The unique thing about quantum information science is that the field is just starting to take off,” said Katherine Harmon, a Maria Goeppert Mayer Fellow at U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, and one of the early-career researchers who helped conceptualize and launch the initiative. “We have an opportunity and indeed an obligation to ensure that the field is open to everyone from the start.”

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This story was first published by The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. 

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