Preparing for the quantum revolution: What is the role of higher education?

Prof. Heather J. Lewandowski, University of Colorado Boulder

February 20th, 2024, 10.30h – Aula R, Department of Physics and Astronomy (entrance from Via Marzolo)

Quantum sensing, quantum networking and communication, and quantum computing have attracted significant attention recently, as these quantum technologies could offer significant advantages over existing technologies. This second quantum revolution has also driven an increased need for quantum proficient STEM graduates. In order to accelerate the impact of quantum technologies and better prepare our students to enter this exciting new world, we need to consider how we can empower our students with the relevant skills and abilities to be successful. Prof. Lewandowski will present results from broad studies of the quantum industry, including the types of activities being carried out in the quantum industry, profile the types of jobs that exist, and describe the skills valued across the quantum industry, as well as in each type of job. Additionally, she will describe her group’s efforts to improve student preparation for entering the quantum industry through experimental training both in a lab course setting, as well as through a new two-semester project-based course. This course has students work in teams on industry-sponsored projects to learn relevant technical (e.g., nanofabrication, servo electronics) and professional skills, such as project management, professional communication, and budget management.

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The speaker

Photograph of Heather Lewandowski.

Heather J. Lewandowski is an experimental physicist and leader of the research group in experimental cold molecular physics and physics education at the University of Colorado Boulder and Fellow of the JILA. She serves on the board of the Advanced Laboratory Physics Association (ALPhA) and she has been involved in the creation of the Recommendations for the Undergraduate Physics Laboratory Curriculum (2014). The two research areas of Lewandowski’s group share an inherently interdisciplinary nature, bridging traditional boundaries of physics, chemistry, and social science. In experimental physics, they study how to cool and trap neutral and ionic molecules to explore how controlling the internal quantum states and translational motion can impact how they interact, also performing high-resolution spectroscopy. In physics education, the group’s research focuses on developing an understanding of how students learn experimental physics. In particular, they look at transforming laboratory courses (both introductory and advanced) for a better development of scientific abilities and expert-like attitudes towards experimental physics. Heather Lewandowski was awarded several prizes and awards, including the AAPT Homer L. Dodge Citation for Distinguished Service and the APS Wolff-Reichert Award for Advanced Laboratory Instruction for her commitment to “scholarly transformation of advanced laboratories”.

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