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With a major research university right in our backyard, a strong military presence and innovative companies spread throughout the metro region, there’s often a plethora of interesting science and technology news to be found in Southern Arizona. Here’s a breakdown of the most interesting recent developments from the region.

 

Quantum Internet. The National Science Foundation recently awarded the University of Arizona a $26 million grant to establish and lead the Center for Quantum Networks. CQN will be an engineering research center of the National Science Foundation, and aims to lay the foundations of the quantum internet by “creating a fabric to connect quantum computers, data centers and gadgets” with qubits (or quantum bits). Whereas typical computer bits operate on a binary system – being either a 0 or a 1 – qubits are able to enter a superposition of both values at the same time, similar to a coin spinning rather than landing on heads or tails. This ability makes quantum computers far more powerful, and is expected to “revolutionize how humankind computes, communicates and senses the world.” The CQN director will be UA associate professor of optical sciences Saikat Guha, who will work with researchers from the UA’s College of Engineering, College of Law, and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. According to the University, a major focus of the CQN team will be researching quantum materials and devices, quantum and classical processing required at a network node, and quantum network protocols and architectures. CQN also aims to demonstrate the first U.S.-based quantum network that can distribute quantum information at high speeds, over long distances, to multiple user groups. CQN partners include Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University. 

 

Reskilling Arizona.Arizona is joining a coalition of 20 states to launch the Reskilling and Recovery Network, which aims to retrain those unemployed to get back to work and help communities disproportionately affected by economic effects of COVID-19. This comes on the heels of the national unemployment rate jumping from 3.8 percent in February to more than 11 percent in June. The Network plans to rejuvenate low-income economies by providing workers with technical assistance via webinars and peer-to-peer learning, and partnering with community colleges. According to  Gov. Doug Ducey, the Reskilling and Recovery Network will help Arizonans “strengthen their professional skills and learn new ones, and it will connect employers with talent across the state.” Arizona partners of the Network include Pima Community College, the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Boeing. The Reskilling and Recovery Network is a partnership between the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the American Association of Community Colleges, with support from Lumina Foundation and the Siemens Foundation.