IBM drives diversity, inclusion in quantum computing

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 18 Sept 2020

Computing giant IBM is looking to drive diversity in the use of quantum computing.

Yesterday, the company announced its first IBM Quantum education and research initiative for historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) aimed at driving a diverse and inclusive quantum workforce.

Historically black colleges and universities are institutions of higher education in the US that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community.

Led by Howard University and 12 additional HBCUs, the IBM-HBCU Quantum Centre will offer access to its quantum computers, as well as collaboration on academic, education and community outreach programmes.

In addition, as part of the company’s continued efforts around diversity and inclusion, IBM will make a multi-year $100 million investment in technology, assets, resources and skills development through partnerships with additional HBCUs through the IBM Skills Academy Academic Initiative.

IBM is at the forefront of developing quantum computing systems with the aim of building universal quantum computers for business, engineering and science.

This effort includes advancing the entire quantum computing technology stack and exploring applications to make quantum broadly usable and accessible.

In SA last year, the company partnered with Wits University to expand quantum computing efforts on the African continent.

“We believe that in order to expand opportunity for diverse populations, we need a diverse talent pipeline of the next generation of tech leaders from HBCUs,” says Carla Grant Pickens, chief global diversity and inclusion officer at IBM.

“Diversity and inclusion is what fuels innovation, and students from HBCUs will play a significant part of what will drive innovations for the future, like quantum computing, cloud and artificial intelligence.”

The computing company says the IBM-HBCU Quantum Centre is a multi-year investment designed to prepare and develop talent at HBCUs from all science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines for the quantum future.

It will emphasise the power of community and focus on developing students through support and funding for research opportunities, curriculum development, workforce advocacy and special projects.

According to IBM, the 13 HBCUs intending to participate in the quantum centre were prioritised based on their research and education focus in physics, engineering, mathematics, computer science and other STEM fields.

They include Albany State University, Clark Atlanta University, Coppin State University, Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T, Southern University, Texas Southern University, University of the Virgin Islands, Virginia Union University, and Xavier University of Louisiana.