New Masters-Level Quantum Computing Degree

| November 20, 2020

Program will draw on decades of quantum computing expertise

USC Viterbi School of Engineering, a long-time leader in quantum computing research, is launching a master’s program in quantum information science (MSQIS). The program’s first cohort is expected in Fall 2021.

The program draws on the expertise in quantum computing and quantum information of USC faculty, who have carried out groundbreaking research in these fields for nearly two decades. USC was and remains the first US university to host a large-scale quantum annealer, at the USC Information Sciences Institute, thanks to its collaboration with Lockheed Martin and D-Wave. The university’s faculty have also conducted research on the latest quantum processors developed by industry, and have tested technologies at companies, such as IBM and the startup Rigetti, through the USC Center for Quantum Information Science and Technology.  Viterbi faculty are currently collaborating with other researchers nationally and internationally to develop a novel quantum computing machine, with funding from IARPA and DARPA.

The 28-credit program will be an offering of the Viterbi School’s Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and includes courses in engineering, computer science, physics and chemistry. Specific courses developed for the degree include quantum computer programming, quantum information theory, quantum error correction, and experimental methods of quantum computing. Quantum algorithms in the coursework will be tested on the D-Wave quantum machine and other quantum processors.

The program was developed in response to a growing demand for engineers in the field. Recent years have seen a great deal of investment and many startups in this area, said Professor Todd Brun, MSQIS Program director.

“There are certain areas that ordinary computers find too difficult to handle. There are problems that quantum computers can solve efficiently that classical computers cannot.” Quantum algorithms can find applications to a number of fields, such as chemistry and drug discovery, Brun added.

Companies have an increasing need for expertise in this area and often must develop internal methods to educate their engineers and scientists about quantum information and computation. The USC Viterbi program hopes to provide a viable alternative and create the next generation of quantum engineers to support both industry needs and societal advancement.

“Over the years USC has graduated dozens of PhDs trained in QIS. A typical PhD study takes around 5 years.  With the MSQIS program we are hoping to help close the gap between academic research and an unprecedented and urgent demand for filling positions in the quantum computing industry. The program will provide to its Masters’ students a strong foundation that will help them immensely in their quantum computing jobs,” said Daniel Lidar, holder of the Viterbi Professorship in Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Director of the USC Center for Quantum Information Science and Technology.

Further information about the program can be found here.

Published on November 20th, 2020

Last updated on May 16th, 2024

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