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ASU launches course on quantum technologies for business executives, leaders

New learning experience provides professionals with knowledge, skills to integrate quantum strategies into business practices


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January 12, 2024

Quantum science may sound like the realm of researchers in lab coats, but it’s a powerful technology that business leaders can learn to harness now.

Thanks to superfast technologies that can solve problems too complex for classical computers,  quantum information science and technology, or QIS, is poised to advance health care, environmental sustainability and other research.

With potential applications across countless industries, there is growing interest from the federal government to educate the workforce on its world-changing capabilities. 

Now executives and leaders can take a unique course that unravels the historical developments, current advancements and transformative power of quantum. Quantum Technologies for Executives and Leaders, available through Arizona State University’s CareerCatalyst website, is designed to equip executives and leaders with a holistic understanding of quantum mechanics and its applications, paving the way for strategic decision-making in this new era.

“Quantum science is the gateway to the future of technology and will help business leaders keep a competitive edge in their industries,” said Sally Morton, executive vice president of ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise. “As the nation continues to invest in this technology, we want to ensure professionals have the chance to harness its capabilities. This course is designed to empower leaders and to help equip them with the knowledge to change the way the world solves problems.”

Why quantum, why now?

Think of quantum technology as a window into the tiniest, most mysterious aspects of our universe. While traditional computers use bits, which are like tiny switches that can be either "on" or "off" to perform calculations, quantum computers use quantum bits or "qubits," which are like switches that can be in multiple states at once. 

The implications of quantum range from supercharged computers that can crunch complex problems it would take classical computers centuries to solve, to simulators that can help scientists understand the behavior of molecules at the atomic level, to develop more effective treatments for disease, to optimizing materials for energy storage and conversion to make renewable energy sources more efficient and affordable.  

Quantum is rapidly expanding on a national stage. The 2018 National Quantum Initiative Act underscores the significance of quantum information science and technology, laying the groundwork for collaboration across 23 federal agencies, 150 private-sector companies and 14 research institutes. 

With a recent expansion of the National Quantum Initiative Act and a substantial $2.35 billion investment in quantum technology startups in 2022, the U.S. is positioning QIST at the forefront of research, signifying significant economic and national security implications. When it comes to fostering innovation, businesses that do not have an understanding of the quantum landscape risk being left behind.

Tapping the expertise of quantum thinkers and researchers

Developed at ASU, the self-paced course leverages insights from renowned quantum experts, unlocking the collective wisdom of Dell Technologies, General Dynamics, IBM Quantum, Inside Quantum Technology and the U.S. State Department. 

Joseph Lukens, a research professor and senior director of quantum networking at ASU, contributed to the development of the course, which was made to be accessible to those without a scientific background. 

“Quantum technologies look to revolutionize many facets of our daily lives, and yet there is a widespread perception that you need a PhD to make heads or tails of it,” he said. “This is a myth. The basics of quantum technology can be appreciated by experts and nonexperts alike, and this course proves it.”

Ken Durazzo, vice president of the Dell Research Office and an expert collaborator on the learning experience, recently spoke on the Inside Quantum Technology podcast about the importance of this kind of education. 

”There are so many different roles and opportunities within the realm of quantum. It’s not just building the quantum systems or understanding the physics behind these quantum systems and how to scale those,” he said. “Over time, a ton of jobs are going to need to be created, and the workforce really needs to be catalyzed in order to take full advantage of quantum.” 

Helping businesses make the quantum leap

Learners begin with an introduction to QIST and the core principles of quantum mechanics. Subsequently, they explore a variety of quantum technologies, spanning sensing and metrology, communication, networking, simulation, computing, algorithms and machine learning. 

Understanding the broader implications is critical for leaders seeking to position their organizations at the forefront of quantum-driven advancement. As learners progress through the course, they transition from being observers of quantum technologies to active leaders in shaping the future of the field.

With a greater understanding of technology, policy and industry intersections from experts across all three areas, participants will complete the course able to adapt to quantum advancements and lead their organizations into the quantum era.

Those who enroll in the course can expect to:

  • Learn about the economic, geopolitical and national security implications of continuing QIST research and development while getting acquainted with post-quantum cryptography and encryption, as well as the quantum investment landscape.

  • Gain strategies to source, recruit and retain diverse quantum talent for your organization.

  • Learn how to create quantum technology roadmaps, set organizational standards and integrate QIST-based approaches into existing workflows.

  • Delve into practical approaches for sourcing, recruiting and retaining quantum talent, ensuring a skilled workforce aligned with the demands of this pioneering field. 

  • Understand how to create quantum technology roadmaps and organizational standards, providing leaders with the tools to align quantum integration with organizational goals.

“Our vision is to inspire leaders of all backgrounds to see what they can do with quantum — because its potential is boundless,” said Maria Anguiano, executive vice president of ASU’s Learning Enterprise, which advances access to learning at all stages of life. “With the course, professionals can not only get up to speed on this technology but begin using it in ways that transform their businesses.”

The quantum course is just one entry in ASU’s CareerCatalyst’s library of flexible courses, certificates and programs — taught by world-class ASU faculty — that dozens of businesses and 300,000 learners are using to upskill their workforce and themselves.

Learn more and enroll at https://careercatalyst.asu.edu/programs/quantum-technologies/.

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