RPI and IBM announce university quantum partnership

The IBM Quantum System One installed at Cleveland Clinic. Pic: Ryan Lavine for IBM
The IBM Quantum System One installed at Cleveland Clinic. Pic: Ryan Lavine for IBM
Extended partnership between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and IBM seeks to accelerate New York’s growth as a next-generation computing epicenter

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) will become the first university in the world to house an IBM Quantum System One, it has been announced, in part of an investment of more than US$150m to help accelerate New York’s growth as a technology epicentre.

The IBM quantum computer, intended to be operational by January 2024, will serve as the foundation of a new IBM Quantum Computational Center in partnership with RPI. By partnering, RPI’s vision is to greatly enhance the educational experiences and research capabilities of students and researchers at RPI and other institutions, propel the Capital Region into a top location for talent, and accelerate New York’s growth as a technology epicenter.

RPI’s advance into the research of applications for quantum computing will represent a more than $150 million investment once fully realised, aided by philanthropic support from Curtis R. Priem ’82, vice chair of RPI’s Board of Trustees. The new quantum computer will be part of RPI’s new Curtis Priem Quantum Constellation, a faculty endowed centre for collaborative research, which will prioritise the hiring of additional faculty leaders who will leverage the quantum computing system.

Transforming the Hudson River Valley into Quantum Valley

“We are grateful for Curtis Priem’s support. RPI is building upon our longstanding collaboration with IBM to harness state-of-the-art computing to find solutions to global challenges, while training the next-gen workforce in quantum,” said Marty A. Schmidt ’81, Ph.D., President of RPI. “Our new quantum computational centre will benefit the Capital Region and the State of New York by dramatically enhancing our area’s research capabilities. We look forward to working with our partners in the region to transform the Hudson River Valley into ‘Quantum Valley.’”

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, located in Troy, NY, will become the first university to deploy an IBM Quantum System One. Pic: RPI

Quantum computers harness the laws of quantum mechanics to process information and may solve problems that are too complex for classical supercomputers such as advancements in computational science research, artificial intelligence, and materials.

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. The agreement with IBM includes a commitment to provide an upgrade to the system installed at RPI in 2026.

“Today’s quantum computers are novel, scientific tools that can be used to model problems that are extremely difficult, and perhaps impossible, for classical systems, signalling that we are now entering a new phase of utility for quantum computing,” said Darío Gil, Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research. “We expect this collaboration to continue to have tremendous impact for the area’s growth as a corridor of innovation, from New York City to the Capital Region. We are thrilled to collaborate with RPI as we continue to nurture the global quantum ecosystem of tomorrow.”

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