TROY, N.Y. — On October 13, 2023, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and IBM held a ceremonial groundbreaking to celebrate the first-ever deployment of an IBM Quantum System One on a university campus. The event, held at the RPI’s Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), featured a grand reveal of the IBM Quantum System One chandelier, the intricately wired golden structure containing the quantum processor chip.
“We are celebrating a new era at RPI,” said RPI President Marty A. Schmidt ’81, Ph.D. “Today’s groundbreaking is an enormous win, not just for RPI, but for the region. It is part of a surge of regional strength in all aspects of computing. Today we are headed even deeper into the future. New York’s Hudson River Valley has the potential to become Quantum Valley.”
Schmidt; Curtis R. Priem ’82, vice chair of RPI’s Board of Trustees; Darío Gil, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research; and John E. Kelly, ’78G, ’80 Ph.D., D.H.L. (Hon.), Chair of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees, were all featured speakers at the event. Buck Bobbin, represented the Office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Paul D. Tonko (NY-20) provided remarks via video. Students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members crowded the theater.
Priem, who is helping to fund the $150 million total project, was presented with the Philanthropic Pioneer Award for his contributions to technological innovation and RPI students.In his comments, Priem shared how he and Kelly started the conversation about RPI housing an IBM quantum computer at a board retreat. “I’ve never seen a project go this fast. I’ve never seen a project this big come together,” said Priem. “RPI and IBM are going to find all of the new applications for quantum computers. Between the two of us, we are going to be rocking and rolling on this! This is another one of those things where you get it started, and those that whomore capable than you take over and go conquer the world.”
The IBM Quantum System One to be deployed at RPI will be powered by the 127-qubit IBM Quantum Eagle processor, with which the company has recently demonstrated the capability to perform utility-scale calculations. IBM defines utility-scale as the point at which quantum computers could serve as scientific tools to explore a new scale of problems that remain intractable for classical methods.
“Today is a monumental day for RPI, IBM, and for the field of quantum computing,” said Gil. “Housing an IBM Quantum System One at a university, especially one as rich in creativity and scientific knowledge as RPI, will serve as a cornerstone of pushing the boundaries of quantum computing to the next level. Now, with a quantum computer, RPI will be at the forefront of ushering in a completely new paradigm of computing that offers profound possibilities for the exploration of a range of previously intractable problems across areas such as materials design, sustainability, pharmaceutical development, healthcare and much more.”
With an expected completion date of January 2024, the intensive project is already underway, with preparations being made at RPI’s Voorhees Computing Center (VCC) so it can house the roughly five-ton machine that has stringent construction, temperature, and security requirements.The IBM Quantum System One is as futuristic in its appearance as it is in its technical capabilities. It adds to RPI’s storied history in advanced technology on the cusp of its bicentennial in 2024.
“As we prepare to celebrate two hundred years at the forefront of STEM research and education, this demonstrates our commitment to leadership and innovation into our third century and beyond,” said Kelly. “When this system is up and running, researchers at RPI and throughout the region will be able to model problems that address the most urgent challenges facing the world today, leading to advancements in health, sustainability, artificial intelligence, and national security.”
Critical components of the RPI-IBM collaboration include quantum education, quantum workforce development, and quantum research. New curriculum in quantum is being developed, along with new educational materials, seminar offerings, a certificate program, and special events. The IBM Quantum System One will be part of RPI’s new Curtis Priem Quantum Constellation, a faculty endowed center for collaborative research, which will prioritize the hiring of additional faculty leaders who will leverage the quantum computing system. IBM will provide research guidance and resources. Regional partners in academia and industry will also have access to this exceptional research tool.
The excitement is palpable on RPI’s campus. A Quantum Computing Club has already formed. Some students are already accessing quantum technology through the cloud. Osama Raisudden, a doctoral student in aerospace engineering, uses the technology to simulate engineering problems that would be too time intensive and expensive on classical computers. “When I chose to pursue quantum computing as my Ph.D. research topic at RPI, I had no idea that the one-of-a-kind resource of an IBM Quantum System One on campus would one day be available to me,” said Raisuddin. “Not only will it be beneficial for my research, but it will give me a leg up in my career because I will have exceptional access to quantum education, training, and research groups at RPI.”
About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute:
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, over 30 research centers, more than 145 academic programs including 25 new programs, and a dynamic community made up of over 6,800 students and 110,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include upward of 155 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration. www.rpi.edu.
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RPI celebrates breaking ground on IBM Quantum System One, Troy, N.Y. – October 13, 2023
- SOUNDBITE John Kelly, RPI Board of Trustees Chair [00:00:08] Welcome to the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. We are about to unveil a quantum computer, which when running, the researchers at RPI and our students will have access to one of the most capable computers in the world to address some of today's most pressing problems.
- SOUNDBITE Martin Schmidt, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) [00:00:34] I firmly believe that the capital region has everything it takes to become another world leading innovation hub, and I fully intend for RPI to help catalyze that transformation in every way possible. I'd like to think that with IBM's leadership in quantum computing in Yorktown Heights, Poughkeepsie and Albany, and the educational institutions in the region, creating what tomorrow's Quantum Innovators New York's Hudson River Valley has the potential to become a quantum valley. So if we could raise the curtain. That brings the quantum processor to the operating temperature of 0.015 kelvin colder than the temperature of outer space.
- SOUNDBITE Martin Schmidt, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) [00:01:30] The power of these quantum computers will unlock problems that classical computers will never be able to solve. And what it means for RPI is that our researchers, with the benefit of this tool, are going to be able to get out in front to figure out what problems are most relevant. Our students are going to get trained to use and know how to operate a quantum computer so that when they graduate, they can enter these new industries that are going to emerge in the quantum era.
- SOUNDBITE Martin Schmidt, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) [00:01:56] But as the faculty get experience with it, they can think about how do I bring quantum computing capabilities into the courses I'm teaching in chemistry and physics, in electrical engineering and economics and management, so that it'll it'll really transform the curriculum and make sure that our students are graduating with those kind of capabilities. And then we're going to take that educational material and share it with the world.
- SOUNDBITE Curtis Priem, RPI Board of Trustees Vice Chair [00:02:20] I've never seen a project go this fast. I've never seen a project this big come together. And besides thanking IBM for the opportunity to do this, I really want to thank the Rensselaer community for coming together and actually seeing how every single person fits into this.
- SOUNDBITE Curtis Priem, RPI Board of Trustees Vice Chair [00:02:39] There's a divergence in computing. This thing is physics based. It's not silicon based on a programing language or new usage. It actually, instead of computing, all the possibilities actually reduces problems.
- SOUNDBITE Curtis Priem, RPI Board of Trustees Vice Chair [00:02:53] Through my career, I've actually tried many different things in the philanthropy world, and I ultimately concluded the best use of your money is actually in education because you get a 10 to 1 return on your money.
- SOUNDBITE Curtis Priem, RPI Board of Trustees Vice Chair [00:03:08] I just hope that every discipline, every department at Rensselaer can come up with something that is so unique that we had never, ever thought of before.
- SOUNDBITE Dario Gil, IBM Senior Vice President and Director of Research [00:03:25] For the first time, as she was reference an IBM quantum system, one will be built and operated directly on a university campus. At IBM, we have dedicated the last several years, actually the last several decades, to moving quantum computing out of the lab and into the hands of our global ecosystem. Who will be critical in making the promise of quantum computing a reality.
- SOUNDBITE Dario Gil, IBM Senior Vice President and Director of Research [00:03:53] This technology holds the promise of solving some of the most pressing problems that we have in the world of discovery scientific discovery of novel materials, for example, of novel battery technologies for the future, or better fertilizers for agriculture, etc.. And by bringing it here, we're going to be able to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers in the technology and discover applications that will make a real difference to our society.
- SOUNDBITE Michael Papadopoulos, RPI Quantum Computer Club [00:04:18] So the Quantum Club primarily is a community of all the people most interested in quantum computing and quantum physics and all the things that make up the computer that we have right here in front of us.
- SOUNDBITE Michael Papadopoulos, RPI Quantum Computer Club [00:04:29] We've had so much support from IBM and other people who have wanted to see Quantum succeed at RPI. So it's just been an incredibly exciting opportunity that this whole semester.
- SOUNDBITE Michael Papadopoulos, RPI Quantum Computer Club [00:04:40] They can do things that classical computers just can't. Right. And so that ability is just what excites me, that we're going to move on to a new era of computing.
- Execs with Shovels for Ground Breaking
- Execs walking around campus
- Exes posing in front of quantum computer
- Close ups of quantum computer