New web series engages future quantum workforce

Quick Quantum introduces high school students to the power of science’s smallest scale

Quantum technology is expected to revolutionize the American workforce in the coming decade, and as part of a national effort to meet that demand, the Chicago Quantum Exchange today released the introductory episode in a new web series aimed at building interest among high school students—a generation essential to the field’s skyrocketing advancement.

Quick Quantum: For High Schoolers, a YouTube series sponsored by Boeing and produced by the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE) with input from leading scientists, introduces young people to quantum information science and engineering, which exploits the unusual properties of nature’s tiniest particles to create unhackable communications and other cutting-edge technology.

“Ensuring that there is a capable and diverse pool of quantum information scientists and engineers is vitally important as we turn this exciting area of research into future Boeing products and services,” said Chief Scientist for Boeing’s Disruptive Computing and Networks team Jay Lowell.

The field is expanding so quickly that its advancement is outpacing its training—only one qualified quantum candidate is available for every three quantum job openings, according to recent research by McKinsey and Co. To address the growing workforce demand, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation are spearheading the National Q-12 Education Partnership, a consortium that aims to expand access to K-12 quantum learning tools and inspire the next generation of quantum leaders.

The web series represents part of Q-12’s growing efforts to increase the skills, diversity, and number of students who are ready to join the quantum workforce.

Photo of Robert Weinbaum
Robert Weinbaum

“I remember being interested by the bizarreness of quantum physics while I was in high school, but I also remember the limited resources that were available for me to pursue this interest further,” said Robby Weinbaum, a University of Chicago physics graduate student, who cohosts the series with Katie Sautter, a quantum engineer who at the time of filming was a postdoctoral researcher at Argonne National Laboratory. “I’m very excited to be a part of this video series where I can do my part to help fill this gap and allow students who may be interested in understanding quantum to have a place to start their journey.”

Today’s episode is released on World Quantum Day, a global initiative created in 2021 to build public understanding of the field and its potential. The rest of the Quick Quantum series will roll out over the summer with new episodes launching in June, July, August, and September.

The episodes use compelling visuals to explore key concepts such as superposition, which describes how a quantum system can be in two states at once; qubits, the fundamental building blocks of many quantum technologies; and entanglement, which describes how quantum systems can affect each other over any distance—even miles. The hosts will also talk to scientists from the fields of quantum sensing, quantum computing, and quantum communication—Shimon Kolkowitz from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Victory Omole from the quantum startup, and Nadya Mason from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Photo of Katie Sautter
Katie Sautter

“I hope that students watch this series and come away wanting to know more about quantum and its many related fields,” said Sautter, who is now putting her quantum knowledge to use as a senior production engineer at IQE, a semiconductor manufacturing company. “I want them to know how much quantum will be present in their futures, and that it’s possible to be a part of it if they want. That’s why creating a series dedicated to unraveling quantum in a fun and digestible way is so important to me.”

To receive notifications when new episodes are posted, subscribe to the Chicago Quantum Exchange on YouTube. You can also follow the Chicago Quantum Exchange on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

  • QuanTime 2023: a set of online and hands-on activities and games designed to introduce quantum information to K-12 learners in a fun, easy way.
  • TeachQuantum: a multi-year program that immerses teachers in real-world quantum research environments and prepares them to teach quantum-focused concepts in their classrooms.
  • The Wonders of Quantum Physics: an outreach program from the University of Wisconsin-Madison physics department that helps children and adults with non-science backgrounds to explore quantum physics in an inquiry-based format.
  • Quantum Quickstart: a free, one-week program that introduces Illinois high school students to the core concepts and applications of quantum engineering.
  • Enabling Practical-scale Quantum Computing (EPiQC) Expedition: a team of education and outreach experts creating quantum computing educational resources for all levels.
  • The QuSTEAM Initiative: an organization facilitating equitable and effective undergraduate quantum education throughout the US.