Quantum Workforce Development in DOE

QIS (Quantum Information Science) developments have underpinned significant parts of the national economic and defense infrastructure. Future scientific discovery and technological advancement in QIS will transform R&D enterprise and have profound impact on U.S. economy and national security. The DOE Office of Science (SC) efforts in QIS (https://science.osti.gov/initiatives/QIS), informed by community input, target DOE-mission-focused applications by leveraging SC’s unique strengths. So far, SC has invested to establish 5 National QIS Research Centers (https://science.osti.gov/Initiatives/QIS/QIS-Centers/). Workforce Development has been widely recognized by the community as a critical element in the ongoing QIS effort. In March 2021, SC established a working group consisting of representatives from DOE national laboratories, universities, industrial companies, and the Office of Science to develop a plan that will be used to establish the knowledge base and skill set/competences requirements needed for developing a curriculum in QIS for educating future scientists in the area. The working group report can be found here.

A key result in the working group report is that two communities should contribute to curriculum development for QIS: the “demand side” and the “supply side.” The demand side is composed of industries supporting development and manufacturing of technologies based on QIS, as well as government laboratories and universities conducting research and development in QIS. It is in this demand side that DOE has its most important role. The 17 DOE national laboratories are a large and growing employer of QIS scientists, engineers, and technical professionals. The supply side is primarily composed of degree-granting institutions and the National Science Foundation (NSF), which directly supports educational research. In addition to DOE’s role in defining the knowledge base, skills, and experience needed to participate in DOE-funded QIS activities, DOE contributes to the supply side via the training of QIS scientists, engineers, and technical professionals through DOE’s portfolio of research internships, summer schools and fellowships for all educational levels, ranging from high school to established faculty (see for example: https://science.osti.gov/wdts). In addition, students receive training as part of the QIS research supported by DOE, including the NQISRCs and single- and multi-investigator research projects. Guided by the understanding of DOE’s dual role in both the “demand side” and “supply side”, SC surveyed QIS experts from across the DOE national laboratories to identify: 1) the essential skills needed for preparing students for future QIS careers and 2) potential approaches in which the national laboratories could assist educational institutions with developing those skills. A summary of their responses can be downloaded here.