By David Pendered

A cure for COVID-19 is the potential result of a new type of research that IBM is providing through a diversity initiative that includes two Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Atlanta.

IBM is developing its quantum computing programs with webinars including one hosted by Abraham Asfaw, a developer advocate. IBM has expanded its quantum computing initiatives to two HBCUs in Atlanta, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University. Credit:

Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College are among 13 HBCUs chosen nationwide by IBM to participate in its new IBM-HBCU Quantum Center. The goal is to foster a more diverse workforce in a field expected to be to the future was “big data” has been since the 1990s.

A columnist in used the example of COVID-19 research as a way to make quantum computing more accessible to a general audience. Here’s how Vaclav Vincalek described it:

  • “Quantum computers help innovators find solutions where the number of options is so great that it is not feasible to calculate with today’s technology.
  • “That’s why biotech is particularly interested in quantum computing technology. For instance, Menten AI, aside from looking for a cure for Covid-19, is looking at discovering new drugs that sit between small molecules and large biologics.”

The biologics Vincalek mentioned are the most advanced therapies available and their development, generally, is beyond the reach of conventional computers.

Clark Atlanta President George French, Jr. said in an email that CAU students will benefit from the additional resources the IBM program will provide.

CAU is Georgia’s only HBCU to be ranked as a place of “high research activity” by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The three other schools ranked R-2 in Georgia are Kennesaw State, Mercer and Georgia Southern.

French observed:

George French, Jr.
George French, Jr.
  • “For Clark Atlanta University, the initiative is a recruitment resource to assist us to continue attracting the best and brightest scholars from across the nation and around the world. It particularly strengthens the research enterprise for CAU as one of the few Carnegie classified R-2 HBCUs in the nation.
  • “Additionally, this initiative will strengthen the private/public partnership pipeline in the best interest of both corporate sector research and public needs.”

The partnerships are evident in programs sponsored by CAU’s Department of Cyber-Physical Systems. The department has more than 300 students, graduates and undergraduates, who are focused on research activities, according to the department’s virtual catalogue:

Clark Atlanta University
Clark Atlanta University is the only HBCU in Georgia to be designated a place of “high research activity” by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Credit: Kelly Jordan
Clark Atlanta University is the only HBCU in Georgia to be designated a place of “high research activity” by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Credit: Kelly Jordan
  • “In recent years, the CPS Department has made concerted efforts to establish a competitive research and training base and Ph.D. pipeline by enhancing its computer science academic program, its research faculty, and its infrastructure. Major research initiatives include the establishment of the Army Center of Excellence in Information Science, a DOD-Sponsored Information Security Research and Education Center (ISREC) and a Web-based Interactive Training Lab sponsored by Intel.
  • “Under the auspices of these programs, several research projects are being conducted in the areas of computer security, Data Mining, High-performance Computing, and Image Processing.”

IBM announced Sept. 17, at its Quantum Summit, that it was establishing the program as part of its $100 million initiative to increase opportunities in education and careers for the nation’s diverse population. According to a statement from Carla Grant Pickens, IBM’s chief global diversity and inclusion officer:

  • “We believe that in order to expand opportunity for diverse populations, we need a diverse talent pipeline of the next generation of tech leaders from HBCUs. Diversity and inclusion is what fuels innovation and students from HBCUs will play a significant part of what will drive innovations for the future like quantum computing, cloud and artificial intelligence.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written...

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1 Comment

  1. Quantum computers offer a transformative approach to problem-solving, especially when faced with complex challenges involving an astronomical number of possible solutions. Unlike classical computers, which rely on binary bits (0 or 1) for calculations, quantum computers use quantum bits or qubits, which can exist in multiple states simultaneously through a phenomenon known as superposition.

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