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SVC holds quantum computing workshop for local STEM teachers and students

by Public Relations | March 20, 2024

LATROBE, PA — Three dozen science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers and students from around the region gained hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology during a quantum computing workshop March 16 at Saint Vincent College.Dr. Megan Ivory

The Quantum Computing, Mathematics and Physics (QCaMP) workshop was led by SVC alumna Dr. Megan Ivory, C’07, a senior member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM.

Quantum computing involves aspects of computer science, physics and math that utilize quantum mechanics to solve complex problems faster than on classical computers. It includes hardware research and application development.

“[Quantum computing] has the potential to have major significance in the fields of medicine and cybersecurity, especially the encryption of financial records,” said Br. Norman Hipps, president emeritus and professor of mathematics in the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences. “It’s going to change things dramatically.”

The eight-hour workshop was the first of its kind at SVC. It was a condensed version of the weeklong interactive QCaMP events Ivory has been conducting virtually and in-person with students and educators since 2021.

“For decades, we’ve been trying to increase diversity in STEM,” Ivory said. “We feel strongly that if we can introduce [STEM topics] earlier, students will be better able to make decisions and be set up on paths of success.”

One of the workshop’s main topics was the Q-12 framework, which expands access to quantum learning tools to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Ivory also encouraged teachers to engage with a recently developed online forum for STEM educators. “It’s designed to allow teachers around the world to learn from each other, share curricula, and share their struggles and ways to overcome those struggles,” Ivory said.Dr. Megan Ivory speaks during the QCaMP workshop at Saint Vincent College

Workshop attendees included teachers from Greater Latrobe, Jeannette, Norwin, South Fayette, Derry Area, Southmoreland, Keystone Oaks, Clearfield Area and the Diocese of Greensburg. There was a wide variety of disciplines and grade levels.

“Quantum computing is our future,” said Wendy Lint, a teacher in the Greater Latrobe School District. “I am intrigued to see how I can bring the understanding of such cutting-edge technology to my physics classes and show how what we’re learning can be applied to today’s newest research.”

Dr. Ivory was assisted by Fr. Michael Antonucci, O.S.B., C’07, S’14, assistant professor of physics in the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing, and Dr. Mary Regina Boland, C’10, assistant professor of data science and business analytics in the Boyer School and Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics and Government, and Saint Vincent senior physics majors Will Mallah and Sam Bringman. 

The group aims to make the workshop an annual event at Saint Vincent College. “We’re laying the groundwork to make a sustainable version for us here,” Antonacci said.

The workshop was funded through a PAsmart grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Those grants support high-quality STEM and computer science learning and professional development opportunities to communities across the state.


PHOTO 1: Dr. Megan Ivory

PHOTO 2: Dr. Megan Ivory speaks during the QCaMP workshop at Saint Vincent College