Efforts to expand quantum computing research capacity continue to accelerate. The National Science Foundation today announced a Quantum Computing & Information Science Faculty Fellows (QCIS-FF) program aimed at developing “a well-trained workforce capable of pursuing advanced research and development in quantum technologies.” Grants of up to $750,000 per proposal are available with anticipated total funding of $6,750,000.
The new NSF quantum faculty fellows effort falls under the ‘The Quantum Leap: Leading the Next Quantum Revolution’ program, which in turn is part NSF’s 10 Big Ideas initiative launched in 2016. As noted in the QCSIFF synopsis, “This “quantum revolution” requires a highly-trained workforce that can advance the envelope of what is possible, through research and development of practical solutions for quantum technologies. Academic faculty serve a vital role in the development of this workforce, by training the next generation of students while performing vital research.”
NSF is seeking proposals with the specific goal of encouraging hiring of tenure-track and tenured faculty in quantum computing and/or communication: “Cross-disciplinary and multi-department hires are welcomed; however, intellectual ownership and primary assignment should be with the department primarily engaged in research and teaching activities for computer and information science and engineering.”
Separately, a related article in the New York Times published on Sunday bemoaned a shortage of quantum computing talent (The Next Tech Talent Shortage: Quantum Computing Researchers). The article suggests both a general scarcity of quantum computing talent and difficulty obtaining visas for foreign quantum researchers is hobbling development of quantum computing in the U.S.
According to the NYT article written by Cade Metz, “It’s a greater problem when there aren’t that many people who understand the technology. In a type of artificial intelligence called deep learning, for example, fewer than 25,000 people, by some estimates, can be considered genuine experts…The labor pool in quantum computing is even smaller. By some accounts, fewer than a thousand people in the world can claim to be doing leading research in the field.”
It’s rather amazing how quickly attention and resources have shifted towards quantum computing and it will be interesting to see what fruits result.
The NSF QCSIFF funding will support the entire academic year salary and benefits of the newly recruited tenure-track or tenured faculty member for a duration of up to three years. Each proposal must request support for only one faculty position. Total budget is not to exceed $750,000 per proposal, with up to two awards per institution, across all departments in any given institution.
Proposals must specifically address the following aspects:
- The commitment of the department, school, and university to building, growing, and sustaining a long-term interdisciplinary effort in QCIS;
- The integration of the quantum faculty with the rest of the department;
- How the new hire enhances cross-departmental research collaborations such as those across physics, mathematics, material sciences, electrical engineering, and computer and information science;
- How the new hire enables creation and support of educational programs in QCIS, including cross-disciplinary course offerings at both the undergraduate and graduate levels
Link to Quantum Computing & Information Science Faculty Fellows (QCIS-FF) program: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2019/nsf19507/nsf19507.htm?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click