Experts Share Needed Quantum Skill Sets. It's Not What You Think.
By John Blyler | Industrial Solutions Manager, Wireline
Quantum computing remains a hot topic in the news and on google searches. But building quantum technology requires a lot of people with different backgrounds, from the expected (like physicists, electrical engineers, computer scientists, software engineers, and chemists) to the unexpected. Two recent significant events highlight the needed skill sets for a career in the emerging quantum workforce.
The first event was the 2022 IEEE International Conference on Quantum
Computing and Engineering (QCE) Conference, which aims to bridge the gap between the science of quantum computing and the development of its supporting industry. The following is a paraphrased portion of a panel on needed quantum workforce skills to get hired.
Tom Loftus, Lockheed Martin Fellow
To get hired, professionals don't necessarily need a deep understanding of quantum theory. Obviously, many jobs require deep insights into quantum mechanics, such as algorithm development, latency challenges in system scaling, and error correction strategies. But many problems leverage traditional engineering disciple, including optical, mechanical, vacuum engineering, control system design, low noise analog and digital electronics, cryogenic, and customer interface – to name a few.
Christian B Madsen – SW Dev Manager, AWS-Quantum Computing
Professionals joining the quantum workforce must have a passion for quantum computing and know how to code. An excellent way to practice this skill is to review "good first issues," where you can build something quantum with the help of experienced software developers. Of course, to enter the workforce, you need to know quantum computing fundamentals such as qubits and logical operations, how quantum computers are implemented, and the like.
Mickey McDonald, Sr Quantum Engineer – Atom Computing
We hire problem solvers, independent thinkers who are good at figuring things out. You must also have good communication skills to write and communicate well while working with a team. It's vital to document solutions well. We are a neutral atom, atomic array company, so we look for people with the platform rather than specific skill sets. For us, it's less critical to have expertise in laser cooling or optical cavity construction than to be able to learn new things quickly. Most of our job is to figure out something we haven't done before.
Emily Edwards, Univ. of Illinois, Science Communicator
I work with various industry consortiums to build up the pipeline of people for the quantum workforce. To achieve this goal, I've worked on The Quantum Atlas (NSF AISL #1713387) project, with helped to demystify quantum for novice adults by designing engaging learning tools for abstract concepts. Another activity was Quander (NSF AISL 2115780, UC), which builds quantum games for middle school girls to facilitate understanding of quantum computing. The goal is to incorporate quantum concepts into game mechanics and reward systems.
The second big happening was the "Keysight World: Innovate" event. While the speakers covered many quantum topics during the quantum session, an essential theme throughout was workforce development and education. In response to a question from the emcee about educating their technical audience, Giampaolo Tardioli, a General Manager - Vice President at Keysight, replied: "We are actively producing learning material on quantum for Keysight University and our YouTube channels. And, as we look ahead to the upcoming year, we are looking to partner with Qubit by Qubit, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and training the next generation of quantum engineers."
Pamela Mallette, Head of Americas Marketing at Keysight, was the moderator for the quantum session panel. Her bylined article focusing on the quantum workforce will soon appear in IT World Canada, a tier-1 publication site.
Emerging technologies like quantum computing won't long survive without a passionate, trained, and ready workforce. Now is the time to lay a strong foundation for this critical market.