For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

New Quantum Technology and Quantum Information Certificate Prepares Students for Careers in Emerging Field

By Gina Myers

An illustration of complex oscillation in quantum physics


May 19, 2021

Professor of Physics Goran Karapetrov, PhD, recognizes that we are witnessing the dawn of a new era of technological innovation: the quantum supremacy era. Quantum technology, which uses the physics of sub-atomic particles, promises revolutionary advances in energy and computing technology. It means more powerful computers, more accurate health care imaging, more reliable navigation and timing systems, and more secure communications, among other possible applications.

“In the past five years, we have seen a remarkable surge in private and government infrastructure investments aimed at commercializing quantum technology. This year alone, the market for quantum computing technology is expected to grow at a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 32.5%, with the U.S. government ready to invest $1.2 billion in 2021,” he explains.

Assistant Professor of Physics Jörn Venderbos, PhD, agrees, “These are exciting times for the development of quantum technology, with rapid advances both on the conceptual and the implementation front. A number of technology companies, such as IBM and Honeywell, have started to invest heavily in quantum technology, which has firmly established quantum computing as a new direction for the broader technology sector. IBM, for instance, is one of the industry leaders and has realized the first generation of quantum processors, which are available to academic, commercial and private users.”

This next revolution in technology requires a broad workforce trained to operate in this new environment. “That means not just a highly select and narrow group of academically trained physicists, but a broad class of technology professionals comprising engineers, materials scientists, computer scientists and technology consultants,” says Venderbos.

To address the critical shortage of skilled workers in this area, Drexel University will offer a new post-baccalaureate certificate in Quantum Technology and Quantum Information. Beginning fall 2021, the Department of Physics will accept applicants who hold bachelor's degrees in physics, chemistry, materials science and engineering, or electrical and computer engineering, and offer them opportunities to learn the fundamentals of quantum technology and quantum information. The aim is to provide a strong foundation in this emerging area, with a focus on the foundations of quantum physics, technological advances on the quantum level and real-world applications.

“The U.S. is firmly intent on dominating this world market, and as a result the need for specialists will grow exponentially in the near future. Currently the global economy is experiencing shortages in specialists trained in the areas of quantum information and quantum communication, quantum sensing, metrology, quantum imaging and quantum simulations,” says Karapetrov.

The certificate is designed for working professionals and will provide skills in areas of quantum technologies that can be applied to real-world problems. Students in the program will obtain a fundamental understanding of the current implementation platforms, as well as the operation and use of existing quantum computing hardware. Furthermore, students will acquire working knowledge of the relevant quantum information processing algorithms. In a broad sense, the certificate will prepare students for entering the quantum technology workforce and contributing to the development of new quantum technologies.

To complete the certificate, students take two required courses and two electives. The first required course, Quantum Technology, provides an applied physics/engineering treatise of the fundamental building blocks of quantum computers and covers different hardware platforms for realizing quantum bit–or qubit—technologies, as well as challenges for future advances. The second required course, Quantum Information, provides an introduction to the principles of quantum physics necessary for quantum computing and examines the way in which quantum information is stored and processed.

The electives are selected from classes in Physics and Materials Engineering. A graduate-level STEM special topics course could also meet the requirement if deemed relevant by the student adviser. The courses prepare students for entering the growing workforce in this area and also build a foundation for advanced MS or PhD degrees in related disciplines.

Both Karapetrov and Venderbos agree that Drexel is in position to be a leader in this field. “As a nationally recognized leader in technology research and pedagogy, Drexel University is in a unique position to capitalize on the opportunities inherent in the quantum revolution. Leading edge research in the areas of quantum materials and quantum information is being conducted across several colleges at Drexel,” says Karapetrov. “A growing number of groups in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering are either already working or considering embarking in research in these areas.”

Venderbos adds, “Drexel specializes in training and educating a highly skilled workforce. The University has a strong research program dedicated to the discovery and functionalization of new quantum materials, which spans multiple colleges, and in particular connects physicists and engineers, as well as state-of-the-art user facilities. In line with its core mission, purpose and history, Drexel is in a unique position to turn this expertise into a practical training program for professionals.”

The certificate program may also count towards part of the MS Degree in Physics if completed with predetermined grade requirements. Learn more about the Quantum Technology and Quantum Information post-bacc certificate.