New from the Faculty of Engineering: The Quantum Engineering Program

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New from the Faculty of Engineering: The Quantum Engineering Program

This past December, the State of Israel signed off on an allocation of 1.25B ILS in favor of the national program for quantum science and technology. Set under the jurisdiction of TELEM (The National Infrastructure Forum for Research and Development), the program has set several goals, including developing human capital and research infrastructure, building a quantum computer in Israel, and forming international collaborations in the quantum field. We’re answering the call here at the Faculty of Engineering at Bar-Ilan, and starting in the upcoming academic year we’ll be offering the Quantum Engineering program, leading us along with the rest of the world toward the Second Quantum Revolution. “These are brand new contents in local and even international terms. Only a few institutions in the world offer a BSc in quantum engineering,” says head of the program, Dr. Eli Cohen. “We decided to open this program after we’ve identified the growing interest, both in academia and the industry, in developing quantum technologies and utilizing them for computing, communication and encryption, as well as developing new and advanced sensors. Our goal is to train faculty graduates with a founded knowledge of engineering, but also physics, computer science and mathematics, with a strong emphasis on quantum science and technology.”

The curriculum was designed over the past year, and is grounded in the current curriculum of the combined electrical engineering and physics program. The first two years in the old and new track are identical (which means that students who have already started the old program can join). The quantum focus starts in the third year, in collaboration with the Physics Department (under the supervision of Prof. Avi Pe'er). Among the new courses we have quantum communication and cryptography, quantum machine learning, advanced quantum measurements, light-matter interactions in the quantum world, quantum optics and a course in quantum computing, half of which is studied at the Faculty of Engineering and half at the Physics Department. This last course grants knowledge in quantum software and algorithms alongside quantum hardware – the practical construction of a quantum computer. Another intriguing course is a quantum technology lab offered by the Physics Department.

“The university was given special funding for this lab, which will allow students to experience the creation of quantum technologies,” says Dr. Cohen. ” In addition, we will try as much as we can to expose our students to other researchers in the field, and get the students involved in on-going research. We will also offer supplementary lectures by local and international experts who will present the forefront of quantum technology.”

Dr. Cohen has a PhD in quantum science and technology from Tel-Aviv University, after which he pursued dual postdoctoral research: one at the Bristol Quantum Information Institute, and the other at the University of Ottawa Centre for Extreme and Quantum Photonics. He arrived at the Faculty of Engineering in October 2018, and has since been teaching courses in quantum computing, applied quantum mechanics and applied thermodynamics. His research group currently has ten members. “We’re researching fundamental questions in quantum theory, such as entanglement and nonlocality, as well as quantum technology, innovative quantum measurements, visible and X-ray imaging methods, quantum computing and quantum simulations, mainly using quantum optics,” he explains. He will be teaching alongside Dr. Adi Makmal, who is also vested in quantum technology as a core field of research. In addition, a new experimentalist faculty member will be joining the faculty and teaching staff. Dr. Makmal collaborates with Microsoft, and I’m collaborating with IAI and Mellanox – which goes to show how significant this topic is, not only for academia but also for high-tech industries,” says Dr. Cohen.

Quantum mechanics was a hot topic at the Faculty of Engineering even before the new program came to be. In December 2019, the faculty held an international conference in quantum science and technology, organized by Bar-Ilan’s QUEST center for quantum research, and attended by experts from all over the world. Many of the senior researchers at the faculty also research quantum issues, and will be teaching at the new program: Dean of the faculty Prof. Zeev Zalevsky, Dr. Moti Fridman, Dr. Tomer Lewi, Prof. Alex Fish, Prof. Doron Naveh and Prof. Dror Fixler, head of the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials. The institute, of which Dr. Cohen is also a member, is not only providing the new program with excellent faculty members, but also infrastructure, services, research labs and a vibrant community.

Students who wish to study at the new program will acquire the fundamental knowledge needed in all engineering industries, as well as tools and skills related to quantum science and technology. “We are seeing a global expansion in the field, plenty of activity and budgeting,” stresses Dr. Cohen. “We would also be able to financially reward excelling students and offer scholarships and prizes. We’re looking for students with great analytic capabilities, high matriculation scored in mathematics and physics, and a high quantitative score on their psychometric tests. But just as important are curiosity, high motivation, abstract and imaginative thinking and an interest in technological innovation.” Students who wish to learn more about the new program, ask questions or see if they are applicable are welcome to read more on the program page, visit Dr. Cohen’s website, or contact him directly via email: eliahu.cohen@biu.ac.il.