ASU & IBM Partner to Expand and Increase HBCU Quantum Computing Diversity, Research and Skills Development!

News Date
IBM logo 2.png

ASU and IBM Expand Partnership & Increase HBCU Quantum Computing Diversity, Research and Skills Development!

- Goal's to increase more quantum-educated HBCU graduates and improve student's IT field career paths. 

By: Kenneth Mullinax/ASU

Alabama State University is partnering with the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center, the nation’s first quantum education and research initiative for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), to foster diversity and skills-development in quantum computing. 

ASU's interim chair of the  Math and Computer Science department, Dr. Michelle Foster, believes that as part of the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center, ASU will have access to the nation’s first HBCU quantum computing research program (established in September 2020) that will allow opportunities for joint collaboration on research, education and community outreach programs. 

"The goal of this collaboration is developing a diverse and inclusive workforce in the field," Foster said. "This new partnership will provide ASU and its faculty and students access to IBM quantum computers and other resources for education and research." 

Foster believes the project will open new vistas in computing at a level of sophistication and speed never before seen. 

"Thanks to IBM, this partnership will allow ASU and other HBCUs to place students first in gaining new quantum computing skills and a cutting-edge education, which will make them more competitive in the workforce." 

According to IBM officials, in addition to allowing students and faculty to access IBM quantum computers, via the cloud, the program also offers students educational support for learning to use "Qiskit" (a new open-source software), as well as funding for undergraduate and graduate research opportunities, curriculum development, workforce advocacy, special projects, strengthening research efforts of faculty at HBCUs, providing opportunities for scholarships, fellowships and internships, and empowering HBCUs to be leaders in the quantum community.  


As explained on IBM's website, quantum computing relies on the laws of quantum mechanics to make some computations faster than ordinary computers. Typical computing systems store and manipulate individual bits with information coded into binary '0 and 1' states, whereas quantum computers use quantum mechanical properties — superimposition, entanglement and interference — to manipulate quantum bits, or "qubits," which is the difference between the speed of a tractor versus that of a jet fighter. The world of quantum computing is still evolving and with the correct software being applied to the right problems, a much faster and accurate answer will occur. 


The IBM-HBCU Quantum Center was first created in September 2020 with the purpose of preparing HBCU STEM students from all related disciplines and schools into scholars who are well-versed in the quantum arena.  

The Center’s goal is to build a sustainable quantum research and education program by increasing the number of African-American students educated in the educational discipline called "Quantum Information Science and Engineering." 

"IBM’s priority in launching the Center is to support and facilitate quantum research and education for HBCU faculty and students as part of the growing quantum workforce,” said Dr. Kayla Lee, product manager for Community Partnerships, IBM Quantum. “We’re proud to continue building on the momentum of the founding institutions and looking forward to collaborating with Alabama State University to build a quantum future.” 

Lee noted that IBM hopes to enhance institutions' course offerings, with an emphasis on research collaboration in quantum information science for under-represented communities in STEM. According to a news release, the blue-chip tech behemoth plans to invest $100 million through partnerships with HBCUs through the IBM Skills Academy academic initiative.  

ASU was selected to participate in partnership with the IBM Center based on its focus on research and curriculum support in mathematics, physics, computer science, engineering and other STEM fields. 

"This partnership allows Alabama State University to be among the first schools involved in the cutting-edge of quantum computing, which will keep us at the very top of this educational discipline, and this helps both the University, and most importantly, our students, to better compete in the educational and workforce level and succeed," Foster said.  


IBM Quantum is an industry-first initiative to build universal quantum computing systems for business and science applications. 

For more information about IBM's quantum computing efforts, please visit 

News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.