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Intel Women Inspire the Next Generation of Quantum Innovators

ScottBair
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Scott Bair is the Senior Technical Creative Director at Intel Labsworking to share insights into innovative research for inventing tomorrow’s technology.

Highlights:

  • In 2020, the Intel Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation partnered with the STEM Next Opportunity Fund and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to launch Million Girls Moonshot, a national movement to close the gender gap in STEM by equipping one million more girls with an engineering mindset over the next five years.
  • Intel created an “Adventures in Quantum” video series which introduces young STEM learners to the field of quantum computing through a few fun interviews with actual Intel engineers, physicists, and directors.
  • Intel® Future Skills provides accessible STEM educational projects to promote creativity and innovation for K-12 students.

Intel is at the forefront of emerging technologies and quantum computing is no exception. From qubits and algorithms to control electronics and interconnects, Intel is heavily invested in quantum research, and its engineers are working hard to make quantum computers a commercial reality. Tireless efforts in the lab along with industry and academic partnerships are producing significant results and bringing us closer to using quantum systems to solve real-world problems. However, continued progress toward this vision for the future requires bright minds to tackle quantum challenges such as qubit fragility and software programmability. To ensure a steady stream of engineers, physicists, chemists, mathematicians, and other essential professionals, we must inspire the next generation of problem-solvers to enter STEM fields. Recognizing this need, Intel is a part of several endeavors to inspire young people and draw them to such important careers.

This is why, in 2020, the Intel Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation partnered with the STEM Next Opportunity Fund and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to launch Million Girls Moonshot. This national movement aims to “re-imagine who can engineer, who can build, [and] who can make.” Specifically, they plan to close the gender gap in STEM fields by equipping one million more girls in with an engineering mindset over the next five years. In its first year, Million Girls Moonshot created after-school and summer programs in all 50 states, enabling them to reach over 160,000 girls.

 

Adventures in Quantum Computing

As a partner to this initiative, Intel called upon women in quantum to share their experiences and impart wisdom; motivating the next generation of innovators to not only join STEM fields but, specifically, to have their eye on quantum. In a four-part “Adventures in Quantum Computing” video series, women within the field answer questions, give background on quantum computing, and provide encouragement to viewers.

 

In the first video, Roza Kotlyar, a quantum physicist at Intel gives a brief introduction to quantum computers. She reminds viewers that "we live at a time of global connection, supercomputers, and cool gadgets. And all are exciting opportunities which are made possible by the revolution of computer power." Roza goes on to explain some of the foundational building blocks of quantum computers and what her role is in the construction process. 

 

In her video, Director of Quantum Applications and Architecture, Anne Matsuura says that “one of the most exciting things about working in quantum computing is that [she] learn[s] something new every day.” This may strike a chord with intelligent students who feel a lack of challenging material in regular academic curricula. The opportunity to pioneer new technologies like quantum computing can be an exciting prospect and one that is more attainable than some realize.

 

Another video features Jessica Torres, one of Intel’s material engineers. She highlights the need for increased participation and diversity in all STEM fields, stating that “one of the biggest myths is that only quantum physicists can work in quantum computing fields… We need a large group of STEM backgrounds. We need chemists, material scientists, mathematicians, physicists, and the list really does go on.” There are many paths to quantum, and they are each as unique as they are essential. This matters to Intel because it encourages students to experiment within STEM fields early on to find their individual passions and connect them to STEM careers.

 

In the final video of the series, Stephanie Bojarski, a process integration engineer, talks about how a career path in quantum computing can begin in grade school or high school. She reminds young viewers that “if you have a desire to learn then you can have a career in quantum computing too.”

In an interview with Diversity in Action Magazine, Intel’s Director of Global STEM Research, Policy, and Initiatives, Dr. Gabriela A. Gonzalez proclaimed that “it’s been too long where we’ve said, ‘[young people] are just not interested because they don’t come [to these programs].’” Perhaps, they simply do not have enough encouragement to pursue an interest in STEM or clear steps on how to do so. Through the “Adventures in Quantum Computing” videos, Intel gives young learners the opportunity to hear from real people within the field; to better understand the available career paths within quantum, and the routes to get there. After sparking an interest, Intel continues to fan the flames and ignite a true passion for problem-solving and innovation by creating numerous opportunities for hands-on learning.

 

Intel® Future Skills

Youth can understand complex ideas at a young age, especially when taught engagingly. That is why, in addition to the after-school programs sponsored by the Million Girls Moonshot movement, Intel supports accessible content for students through Intel Future Skills, providing over 40 hours of content with unique projects for home, school, and community use. 

While laying the groundwork for real-world applications of quantum computing, Intel is simultaneously doing its part to shape young minds and bring fresh perspectives to the field. Investing in quantum education earlier in a student’s educational journey can spark a passion for lifelong learning and problem-solving and engender creativity, confidence, and resilience. Intel believes in broadening equitable and inclusive access for people with diverse backgrounds and fostering the development of better products to serve all communities now and for generations to come.

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About the Author
Scott Bair is a Senior Technical Creative Director for Intel Labs, chartered with growing awareness for Intel’s leading-edge research activities, like AI, Neuromorphic Computing and Quantum Computing. Scott is responsible for driving marketing strategy, messaging, and asset creation for Intel Labs and its joint-research activities. In addition to his work at Intel, he has a passion for audio technology and is an active father of 5 children. Scott has over 23 years of experience in the computing industry bringing new products and technology to market. During his 15 years at Intel, he has worked in a variety of roles from R&D, architecture, strategic planning, product marketing, and technology evangelism. Scott has an undergraduate degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a Masters of Business Administration from Brigham Young University.