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The future of the internet

January 18, 2023

Joseph Lukens, head of ASU's new Quantum Networking Lab, breaks down the science and potential behind a growing field

Those who remember the days of dial-up internet may especially appreciate this decade’s developments in high-speed connectivity. We’ve come a long way since the days of "you’ve got mail," and thanks to quantum networking, Arizona State University is poised to make the next leap — with broad social and economic implications.

Through a series of new initiatives, ASU is signaling its commitment to advancing quantum information science and technology, or QIST, on a national stage. In collaboration with organizations such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Cisco, ASU Knowledge Enterprise has designed a Quantum Networking Lab that is housed on ASU’s Tempe campus and serves as the central location for research and experiments throughout the metro area.

The lab is fully funded through Knowledge Enterprise and ASU’s recently launched Quantum Collaborative, a nationwide partnership among industry leaders and top academic and research institutions. 

“Quantum networking is a key element of ASU’s quantum technology initiative, and advancing this field will create a new wave of computer systems with the potential to deliver information faster, more securely and more accurately. This impacts every industry,” says Sally C. Morton, executive vice president of ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise. “The Quantum Networking Lab is an exciting example of ASU’s commitment to advance research and discovery that is of value to our local, national and global communities.”

Foundational leadership

Leading the new lab will be Joseph Lukens, who recently joined ASU as senior director of quantum networking after seven years at Oak Ridge. Renowned for his studies of experimental and theoretical quantum information, and extensive published works, Lukens demonstrated a telecom-compatible "temporal cloak" early in his career as a graduate student at Purdue University. 

As a subfield of QIST, quantum networking focuses on solving problems related to the connections between computers. Just like social networking pioneered new ways for people to communicate, we may one day view quantum networking as the catalyzing field for computers to communicate in ways difficult for humans to fathom. 

Lukens believes that ASU and the Quantum Networking Lab have the potential to become national leaders in QIST. Continuing to prioritize partnerships, like those created in the Quantum Collaborative, will play a key role.

Joseph Lukens

Joseph Lukens, ASU senior director of quantum networking. Photo courtesy Carlos Jones/ORNL

 “No one researcher or institution can do everything alone,” Lukens says. “An attitude of openness and working together will be the key to pushing this field forward.”

Since joining ASU, Lukens explains that his work at the university typically consists of “designing and analyzing experiments, running simulations, writing papers and troubleshooting any roadblocks.”

“Ultimately, my mission at ASU is to develop a state-of-the-art quantum networking research program supporting end-to-end entanglement throughout the Phoenix area and beyond,” he says.

Entanglement refers to a group of particles that are so intertwined that actions performed on one can impact the others, even when they are very far apart from each other — like rolling two dice and getting matched numbers every time.

Working at the speed of light

Lukens aims to support entangled quantum systems at ASU that share properties with another quantum system far away from it. Harnessing end-to-end entanglement, quantum networking would allow a computer to be entangled with devices on the other side of the world — interacting with them at unprecedented sensitivity and security, on demand. 

“Take away quantum, and what do we want overall from networking? We want to access resources and to communicate and share information,” says Lukens, who aims to simplify and demystify complex concepts. “In quantum networking, we are after the same goals. But we're applying the most sophisticated features of quantum mechanics to help us achieve them.”

At the ASU Quantum Networking Lab, Lukens’ seminal work in entanglement could eventually lead to the creation of a powerful quantum internet and safer communication between systems, among other groundbreaking advancements.

Pathways to quantum innovation 

Bolstered by its strong partnerships in academia and with industry including IBM, Dell Technologies and Quantinuum, ASU also aims to usher in the next generation of quantum innovators as it fosters its talent. For Lukens, the journey to a career in quantum networking wasn’t straightforward. As a bass player interested in making music, and a student successful in mathematics, Lukens enrolled in engineering as an undergraduate hoping for a future as a studio engineer.

“Ultimately, I found a field that I love and that fascinates me, but it's not a direction that I could have predicted,” Lukens says.

Quantum encompasses principles of math, engineering, design, policy and more — making a diversity of pathways to careers in the field. 

In fact, one might say getting started with QIST is all about embracing the unknown. No one has all the answers because we’re just starting to uncover them as a field, making it an especially exciting time to join.

At ASU, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering offer a variety of programs that provide the foundation and skills for a career in QIST, ranging from computer science to mechanical engineering to innovation ventures and automation. As home to programs in mathematics and physics, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences contextualizes scientific principles and developments towards bolstering societal progress. 

Quantum industry leaders are also calling for technicians with a general understanding of quantum concepts to support atomic physics engineers and other highly specialized members of the workforce, making technology and education training key. ASU's Bachelors of Science in information technology, on the Polytechnic campus, provides a solid basis for quantum.

“If I were to give advice to a student considering the field, I would say don't let the enormity overwhelm you,” Lukens says. “You don't have to fully understand quantum mechanics to do quantum mechanics.”

Learn more about ASU’s quantum work and partnerships.

Written by Samantha Becker and Annie Costakis

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ASU student worker program awarded $1.5M

January 18, 2023

Strada Education Network grant to help expand Work+ program to include 8 partner institutions

Arizona State University’s Work+ program, which aims to enhance and create holistic on-the-job experiences for working learners across ASU, was awarded $1.5 million by the Strada Education Network as part of its Beyond Completion Challenge.

Piloted last spring, Work+ is a collaboration among the University CollegeCareer and Professional Development Services and the Student Employment Office. The program offers a personalized experience that empowers students to hone their sense of identity, agency and purpose in their lives and careers throughout their paid work experience at ASU.

The program started with around 500 students, and the initial $250,000 grant from Strada supported technology, digital assets, stipends and administrative costs, but Sukhwant Jhaj, dean of University College and vice provost for academic innovation and student achievement, says the additional grant funding of $1.5 million over the next three years will greatly expand the program’s reach and impact to scale Work+ efforts both internally and to other institutions across the country. 

Work+ is in a great place for significant expansion across ASU, empowering student employees across the university to leverage their roles to gain high-quality work experience that is helping them build skills transferable to any industry they move into post-graduation,” Jhaj said.

The program aims to scale its reach to the more than 12,000 students employed annually at ASU. In addition, eight partner institutions have committed to participate in a Work+ Institute: Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Georgia State University, Northern Arizona University, University of Central Florida, University of Illinois Chicago, University of Maine, University of Michigan-Dearborn and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Jhaj added that he and his team are thrilled to expand the program nationwide by launching new options for collaborative engagement with two- and four-year partner institutions. 

These partners are jumping right in with us to co-design customized strategies for their institutional needs that they will take back and pilot in their campus environments beginning in late 2023 through 2025,” Jhaj said. “As they pilot, they will be sharing their successes, challenges and advice with not just ASU, but a broader community of practice of additional higher ed partners who are also interested in evolving what student employment looks like at their institution.” 

Partners will serve a minimum of 50 student workers and their supervisors at each institution, with the potential of serving up to 19,000 working learners across the country.

At the end of this grant, we will have a new national model for on-campus employment that redesigns student employment to be a transformative educational experience,” Jhaj said. “This program will deliver the relevant career skills that students expect and employers value.

According to Jhaj, so far the feedback on Work+ participants, both from ASU working learners and supervisors, has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“This work will inform improvements to Work+ at ASU and will also hopefully lead to a national movement that is changing traditional student employment experiences into transformative working and learning opportunities for the 14-plus million students who are currently working while attending school," he said. "It’s time to reinvent work-and-learn programs so they deliver much greater value for our learners during their time on campus.” 

Krista Hinz

Copy Writer , ASU Media Relations