New Boeing, CQE collaboration will develop talent, advance quantum communications and sensing research

$3.5 million investment expands partnership with Chicago Quantum Exchange

The Boeing Co. has deepened its partnership with the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE) through a new collaboration that will support early-career scientists and seed new research, helping to grow the region’s already robust quantum ecosystem and boosting efforts to develop next-generation quantum sensors and networks.

Boeing, a leading global aerospace company and a driver of quantum information science and engineering (QISE) research, has been a CQE partner since 2019. Their latest commitment of more than $3.5 million will support technical workshops and the new research projects that stem from them, as well as graduate student and postdoctoral fellows and an award that recognizes early-career researchers whose work moves the field in new directions. It also renews Boeing’s corporate partnership with the CQE.

The new initiatives will build on existing regional strengths to create new and expanded research and workforce development programs that engage a diverse regional and global audience. The mission of advancing QISE technology by fostering collaboration is one shared by Boeing, the CQE, and its member institutions, which include the University of Chicago, the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Northwestern University. The CQE’s members anchor a rapidly growing Midwest quantum ecosystem that is home to a 124-mile quantum network testbed across Chicagoland, four of the 10 quantum research centers funded by the 2018 National Quantum Initiative Act, and the first quantum startup accelerator in the nation.

“Our combined partnerships among university researchers, national labs, startups, and leading businesses like Boeing make the Chicago region uniquely positioned to lead the next generation of quantum science and engineering,” said Juan de Pablo, the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering, and Executive Vice President for Science, Innovation, National Laboratories and Global Initiatives at the University of Chicago. “Boeing’s support and collaboration are vital to our collective success.”

Jay Lowell, Quantum Portfolio Manager for Boeing, said, “Boeing is committed to working with CQE to develop and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers who will advance quantum sensing and networking technologies.” 

Group photo of winners of the 2022 Quantum Creators Prize, taken at the Chicago Quantum Summit.
The 2022 Quantum Creators Prize winners. (Image by Anne Ryan)

The commitment will also support the Quantum Creators Prize, expanding a successful program that works to increase diversity in the field of quantum science and promotes early-career researchers who are exploring new ideas within the field. The program, created in 2021, has honored 27 PhD students and postdocs in the past two years and includes a symposium in which awardees present their accomplishments to leaders in the field. Last year, the symposium was held in conjunction with the annual Chicago Quantum Summit, offering the Creators an opportunity to present their work to more than 500 national and global leaders from industry, academia, and government. With support from Boeing, the symposium will continue to be a part of the Summit.

“Partnerships between industry and academia play a critical role in advancing quantum technologies, leading to knowledge-sharing that accelerates innovation,” said David Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange, and senior scientist at Argonne. “Boeing’s investment will drive innovation and launch collaborations spanning quantum sensing to communication and encourage participation from early-career researchers. We are grateful to Boeing for growing their ongoing partnership.”