Chicago State University Scientist to Transform Quantum Education for Minority Students

Illinois' only 4-year Predominantly Black Institution receives National Science Foundation grant to collaborate with universities & industry leaders

QuantumChicago, IL - Science and scientific research plays an important role in the academic landscape at Chicago State University where some of the region’s most accomplished scientists teach and research. Recognizing the lack of diversity in quantum information science and technology, this area of scientific study and technology is predicted to change the world. Chicago State University is joining forces with four other regional universities and industry leaders to developa national model for undergraduate curriculum that creates multiple pathways into quantum science careers. The curriculum will also create a national education model for the emerging field of quantum information science and technology. 

The initiative, QuSTEAM (Quantum Information Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) was recently awarded $700,000 by the National Science Foundation. The QuSTEAM team consists of 19 faculty members across five universities: Chicago State University, University of Chicago, The Ohio State University, Michigan State University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. QuSTEAM has also partnered with industry and national laboratory collaborators, including Argonne National Laboratory, IBM, Applied Materials, and HRL Laboratories, to develop a diverse, capable and effective quantum workforce. 

“Just like how computing and the internet define our lives today, quantum technology may soon revolutionize our lives. However, we will only reach this leap if we integrate quantum education into workforce training programs,'' said Russell Ceballos, Ph.D., QuSteam co-principal investigator,Chicago State University, Research Scientist at Pittsburgh Quantum Institute and Visiting Faculty Fellow at Fermi National Laboratory. “The QuSTEAM team is developing workforce training programs that will connect students to careers and resolve this bottleneck in the advancement of quantum technologies."

Developing inclusive paths forward

The QuSTEAM curriculum will both address the need for a nation-wide approach to quantum education and a shortage of diversity in STEAM education and the STEAM workforce. Through engagement with industry, academic, and research leaders, the researchers will determine the scientific and engineering practices required of the quantum workforce. QuSTEAM will set national standards for educating the 71% of the STEM workforce that does not require a postgraduate degree and instituting high-quality, engaging courses and educational tracks that allow for students of all backgrounds and interests to choose multiple paths of scholarship. 

Ceballos brings a unique view to the QuSTEAM team of researchers, providing expertise as a researcher in the field of quantum science and in successfully preparing Black and Latinx students in the STEAM fields. As a Mexican American with 20 years of experience teaching students from various socio-economic backgrounds, Ceballos combines his professional expertise in science with a commitment to opening doors in science Black and Latinx student scholars.  Chicago State University has a rich history of educating African Americans in the STEAM field.  In 2019, the university ranked #2 in the nation for graduating the most African Americans in Physics according to the American Physical Society. 

“Just like science itself, science education has advanced a lot in the last couple of decades,” said QuSTEAM co-PI Andrew Heckler, professor of physics and physics education research specialist at Ohio State University. “We know a lot more about how to help a diverse population of students connect with content, learn it better and advance through programs. It is important we use these methods to attract and educate students in the complex and exciting field of quantum information.”

“The QuSTEAM research on advancing the field of quantum science and removing barriers to educating underrepresented students aligns with CSU’s track record of success in quantum research and in education Black and Latinx students in STEAM” said Leslie Roundtree, DHS., Interim Provost & Senior Vice President, Chicago State University.  “The QuSTEAM initiative puts CSU and our university and industry partners at the cutting edge of quantum science education.” 

About Chicago State University

Chicago State University (CSU), founded in 1867, is the oldest public university in the Chicago Metropolitan area. The University’s five colleges offer over 70 undergraduate and graduate degree-granting and non-degree programs. CSU is committed to equity in education, serving as the only U.S. Department of Education-designated four-year Predominantly Black Institution in Illinois and ranked by a Harvard economist in the top 4% of public and private universities nationwide in supporting our graduates’ economic mobility. The University serves as a prominent civic space on the greater South Side of Chicago by hosting a multitude of athletic, educational, cultural, and recreational activities. The University is located near public transit that provides convenient access to the campus.