NYU Tandon School of Engineering is poised to become one of an extremely select group of American universities offering an undergraduate program in quantum technology, situating it at the forefront of a fast-growing field in which high employer demand significantly outpaces available talent.
Beginning in the spring 2024 semester, NYU Tandon students can start earning credits towards the new quantum tech minor, offered through the Department of Applied Physics.
In the past decade, quantum technology – the use of quantum mechanics to create new devices and applications – has demonstrated remarkable promise with its ability to significantly enhance computing power, enable secure communication, and advance precision measurement.
The demand for people with quantum training and expertise far exceeds availability, however, with research showing only one qualified quantum candidate available for every three quantum job openings.
John Di Bartolo, chair of NYU Tandon's Applied Physics Department, worked with NYU colleagues and professionals from the educational outreach program at SandboxAQ – an enterprise SaaS company providing solutions at the nexus of AI and Quantum technology (AQ) – to develop the minor, a process that started earlier this year.
"This new quantum minor reflects a deep commitment to equipping students with the knowledge to find engineering solutions to problems that have yet to even fully emerge," said Jelena Kovačević, Dean of NYU Tandon. "Quantum is still a nascent field, and the dearth of available education options at the undergraduate level reflect that. We expect a groundswell of interest in learning these skills, similar to the trends in artificial intelligence education we first saw a decade ago. We are thrilled to be among the vanguard of institutions offering students a formal quantum program."
NYU Tandon and SandboxAQ jointly organized a workshop in March 2023, during which Tandon faculty joined SandboxAQ leaders and residents – graduate students and postdocs working on AI and quantum projects at the company – to begin designing a curriculum that provides a practical foundation for careers in the quantum industry.
"Assembling the curriculum for the minor has been a true interdisciplinary project involving faculty and administrators from Tandon and other areas of NYU, such as the Center for Quantum Information Physics, allowing us to zero in on the exact academic recipe we think best reflects state-of-the-art education in the field," said Di Bartolo. "SandboxAQ's team has been instrumental in the process, providing fresh perspectives and access to a wealth of real-world experiences and expertise that were invaluable in shaping the minor we ultimately created."
In September, NYU Tandon collaborated closely with SandboxAQ to host a tremendously well-attended hackathon – called Tandon hAQathon – to introduce NYU students to quantum technology and provide them hands-on experience in quantum programming, as a lead up to the minor launch. Tandon also welcomed Rupak Chatterjee as an Industry Assistant Professor this year, who will bring his expertise in quantum machine learning to courses for the minor.
"The advancement and application of quantum technology rely heavily on both the availability and development of an educated workforce that will fuel technological innovation and ensure future progress," said Dr. Marianna Bonanome, Head of Education Outreach at SandboxAQ . "Our educational outreach program fosters collaboration between the private sector and academia to build a strong quantum ecosystem that benefits everyone. As a former student of Professor Di Bartolo's and an NYU Tandon grad, I know first hand that students there will receive a quantum education that is second to none."
The new quantum tech minor requires completion of six courses. The first two – Introduction to Quantum Science and Introduction to Quantum Programming – will be offered for the first time in Spring and Fall 2024 respectively. Math Foundations for Quantum Computing and Introduction to the Physics of Quantum Computing are required as well, along with two electives. All courses have prerequisite requirements.
"As quantum information science is maturing and leading to real world innovations and applications outside of research labs, it is necessary to equip students with formal training in experimental and theoretical quantum physics," said Javad Shabani, associate professor of physics at NYU and the Director of Center for Quantum Information Physics (CQIP). "NYU Tandon's new quantum minor is an important contribution to that effort."
NYU Tandon's relationship with SandboxAQ and other companies in the quantum computing space create pathways to student internships, providing opportunities to gain real-world experience to enhance marketability post-graduation.
The new quantum tech minor is the latest in a series of curriculum innovations NYU Tandon has introduced that encourage cross-departmental learning and real-world skills acquisition. The School recently debuted an Engineering Innovation minor focused on developing foundational intra and entrepreneurship skills. It also greatly expanded its Vertically Integrated Projects program in which student teams work on engineering problems over multiple years. It rolled out a flexible, fully-online, "build your own" Master of Science in Emerging Technologies that allows students to craft their own curriculums to match their professional goals. It also unveiled a doctoral track in urban science, run under the auspices of Tandon's Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), that is open to Ph.D. students in any NYU Tandon department.