On October 13, 2023, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and IBM embarked on a groundbreaking initiative that promises to open up new frontiers in computing. The campus of RPI is set to house the first-ever IBM Quantum System One, marking a significant milestone in the world of quantum computing. Set to be installed in January 2024, this state-of-the-art system holds immense potential for education, research, and workforce training in the field of quantum technology.
During the ceremonial groundbreaking event, RPI President Marty A. Schmidt emphasized the transformative impact of this venture not only for RPI but also for the entire region. Schmidt envisions New York’s Hudson River Valley becoming the Quantum Valley, where the advancements in quantum computing will drive innovation and progress.
The event was attended by notable figures such as Curtis R. Priem, Vice Chair of RPI’s Board of Trustees, Dr. Darío Gil, Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research, and Dr. John E. Kelly, Chair of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees. In addition, representatives from U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office and Congressman Paul D. Tonko (NY-20) acknowledged the importance of this milestone through video messages.
The centerpiece of the ceremony was the grand reveal of the IBM Quantum System One chandelier, an intricately wired golden structure housing the quantum processor chip. This visually stunning embodiment symbolizes the fusion of cutting-edge technology and artistic design.
The IBM Quantum System One at RPI will be powered by the IBM Quantum Eagle processor, boasting 127 qubits. The quantum processor has demonstrated its capability to perform utility-scale calculations, a significant feat in the field. IBM defines utility-scale as the point at which quantum computers can tackle problems that are beyond the reach of classical methods.
Dr. Gil expressed his excitement about the partnership, emphasizing how RPI would be at the forefront of groundbreaking research across various fields. The deployment of the IBM Quantum System One at RPI will pave the way for advancements in materials design, sustainability, pharmaceutical development, healthcare, and more. This new era of computing holds profound possibilities for solving complex problems that were once considered intractable.
Preparations are already underway at RPI’s Voorhees Computing Center to accommodate the rigorous requirements of the IBM Quantum System One. The machine weighs approximately five tons and demands strict construction, temperature, and security standards. Once completed in January 2024, this cutting-edge technology will propel RPI into its bicentennial and reaffirm its commitment to leadership and innovation.
The collaboration between RPI and IBM extends beyond technology deployment. Quantum education, workforce development, and research are integral components of this partnership. RPI is developing a new curriculum in quantum and plans to offer seminars, educational materials, and a certificate program. The university will establish the Curtis Priem Quantum Constellation, a faculty endowed center for collaborative research that will harness the potential of the IBM Quantum System One. IBM will provide research guidance and resources, while regional partners in academia and industry will also have access to this remarkable research tool.
The excitement surrounding quantum computing is palpable on RPI’s campus. A Quantum Computing Club has already formed, and students are accessing quantum technology through the cloud. Doctoral student Osama Raisuddin works in aerospace engineering and utilizes quantum computing to simulate complex engineering problems. Raisuddin commends the availability of the IBM Quantum System One on campus, recognizing the invaluable access to quantum education, training, and research groups at RPI.
As Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute paves the way for the future of quantum computing, the possibilities for innovation, discovery, and societal impact are boundless. With the deployment of the IBM Quantum System One, RPI is poised to make groundbreaking advancements that will shape our future.