Education

IBM-HBCU Quantum Centre welcomes ten more universities as members

February 27, 2021

Ten Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) were added to the list of IBM-HCBU Quantum Centre members. The centre was launched in September 2020 with thirteen members, and now the total rises to twenty-three. The goal of the centre is to provide quantum education for underrepresented communities and advance quantum information science (QIS). The centre’s initiative will go on for multiple years, focusing on STEM fields and itself follows IBM’s announcement of investing $100 million in these HBCUs through the IBM Skills Academy Academic Initiative.

In alphabetical order, the new schools are:

  • Alabama State University
  • Bowie State University
  • Delaware State University
  • Dillard University
  • Florida A&M University
  • Norfolk State University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • South Carolina State University
  • Tennessee State University
  • University of the District of Columbia
  • The orignal HCBUS are:
  • Albany State University
  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Coppin State University
  • Hampton University
  • Howard University
  • Morehouse College
  • Morgan State University
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • Southern University
  • Texas Southern University
  • University of the Virgin Islands
  • Virginia Union University
  • Xavier University of Louisiana

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

Chief Global Diversity & Inclusion Officer for IBM Carla Grant Pickens, last year during the announcement of the partnership

In a blog post, several members were revealed to receive key roles in the future, including:

Howard University associate professor of physics Thomas Searles

Serena Eley, an assistant professor of physics at the Colorado School of Mines and head of the Eley Quantum Materials Group

Anderson Sunda-Meya, an associate professor of physics at Xavier University of Louisiana and recipient of the 2021 American Physical Society Excellence in Physics Education Award.

These partnerships aim to increase the number of Black students in Quantum Information Science and Engineering (QISE), strengthening already present QISE programmes in HBCUs, and offering scholarship, fellowships, and internships for these students interested in careers within STEM disciplines.

Dr. Kayla Lee is one of the driving forces behind the IBM-HBCU Quantum Centre

Unfortunately, Black and Latino students are twice as likely to leave STEM majors than white students, mostly due to lack of resources and support. Black professionals make up only 7% of STEM workers while Latinos fare slightly better at 9%. Because of this, IBM wants to help support Black students in HCBUs, where most of them are educated. These HCBUs are also the ones that provide 27% of the total STEM degrees Black graduates receive. Reports also show that within the top 50 institutions Black students study for STEM doctorates in, 21 are HCBUs.

IBM believes that a diverse quantum community will be beneficial, and it intends to support the quantum workforce even in community colleges and other underrepresented institutions. The company also plans to measure how the initiative goes by taking records in student engagement and research capacity, among other metrics.

‘Increasing quantum computing research opportunities for students and faculty is at the heart of the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center. At IBM, we’re proud to provide free access to quantum computers on the cloud and educational materials that make research easier and more accesible. Looking forward, I hope that we can leverage best practices from the Center to expand quantum engagement not only to more HBCUs, but also other Black and underrepresented communities in higher education.’

Dr. Kayla Lee, Growth Product Manager, Community Partnerships at IBM Quantum

Dr. Lee is a third-generation HBCU gradaute and a major driving force behind the IBM-HCBU Quantum Centre.

About IBM Quantum

IBM Quantum intends to solve the world’s complex problems through quantum computing. It also works with many organisations and companies, including the HCBUs covered above. The company remains a powerful force and authority within the quantum community and has been for years now.