$15 Million Project to Help Make South Carolina Workforce Quantum Ready, Attract Quantum Business

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Insider Brief

  • The South Carolina Daily Gazette reports that a $15 million initiative is aimed at training quantum workers in South Carolina.
  • The South Carolina Quantum Association will pair up students with mentors and help build skills to work on a quantum supercomputer.
  • Critical Quote: “If we can train a generation on the skills needed, they’re going to be sought after by every entity in the world at a great salary. We can be world-renowned for what we do here. The question is, are we going to be last in the country or are we going to be the first.” — State Sen. Dick Harpootlian

A  $15 million state-funded initiative is taking steps to propel South Carolina into the forefront of quantum computing, according to the South Carolina Daily Gazette. That first step of the project is starting to build a quantum-ready workforce, the paper reported.

In a move aimed at preparing college students for the next generation of high-tech careers, the South Carolina Quantum Association will help connect students with resources to build the knowledge and skills to work on a quantum supercomputer.

According to the newspaper, the association plans to connect students and professors with companies seeking the unique advancements offered by quantum computing. This initiative has been allocated a substantial $15 million from the state budget, earmarked specifically for this purpose.

Joe Queenan, one of the drivers of the project, told the paper that that there is still ample opportunity for South Carolina to play a significant role in the rapidly emerging quantum industry.

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“It’s still an open race but it’s going to take highly skilled workers,” Queenan told the paper.

Quantum Mentorship

This initial investment will be channeled into hiring quantum consultants to mentor students each semester, continuing through spring 2025, according to the paper. The program is set to begin at the University of South Carolina and later expand to other higher education institutions in the state. The funds will also cover the costs of accessing a quantum computer located at the University of Maryland, which students can reach via a web portal at the nonprofit’s Columbia office.

With quantum technology still in its infancy, there are few experts in the field. The association’s mission, as reported by the newspaper, is to transform South Carolina students into specialists in this cutting-edge technology through direct training, ensuring they are job-ready upon graduation.

The anticipation is that by fostering a pool of quantum experts, South Carolina could attract more high-tech companies to leverage the expertise of graduates from the state’s universities. Industries such as pharmaceuticals and banking are already exploring quantum computing for drug development, cyber-theft prevention, and enhanced financial decision-making, as noted by technology giant IBM, which operates over 20 quantum computer systems globally.

The South Carolina Daily Gazette further highlighted the association’s aspirations to position the Palmetto State as a competitive player in the quantum field, rivaling established hubs in cities like Chicago, New York, and Boulder, Colorado. The association’s leaders are not only eager to put South Carolina on the map but also to secure additional federal funding.

State Sen. Dick Harpootlian has been a key supporter of the initiative, according to the Gazette. He emphasized both the potential for South Carolina to gain global recognition for its contributions to quantum computing — as well as the need to join the ecosystem now.

“If we can train a generation on the skills needed, they’re going to be sought after by every entity in the world at a great salary,” Harpootlian told the SC Daily Gazette. He added: “We can be world-renowned for what we do here. The question is, are we going to be last in the country or are we going to be the first.”

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Matt Swayne

With a several-decades long background in journalism and communications, Matt Swayne has worked as a science communicator for an R1 university for more than 12 years, specializing in translating high tech and deep tech for the general audience. He has served as a writer, editor and analyst at The Quantum Insider since its inception. In addition to his service as a science communicator, Matt also develops courses to improve the media and communications skills of scientists and has taught courses. [email protected]

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