Durand receives NSF CAREER award to explore implementing control algorithms on quantum computers

quantum computer processor

While progressively more manufacturers are looking toward automation to boost efficiency and reduce costs, in many cases systems lack the computational power to execute increasingly complex tasks. This begs the question of whether the emerging field of quantum computing could hold any viable solutions to this challenge, and whether they would be safe.  New research in the Wayne State University College of Engineering aims to explore this matter further.

Helen Durand
Helen Durand

Helen Durand, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, is developing theory and computational tools needed to implement control systems — critical to the integration and cooperation of devices, machines and human workers in automated manufacturing — on quantum computers. Her project, “Charting the Quantum Computing Landscape for Process Control,” merited a five-year, $542,843 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, the organization’s most prestigious accolade for up-and-coming researchers.

“The work will provide the first comprehensive treatment of this topic with the goal of elucidating what properties of quantum computing algorithms lead to safe automatic control systems,” said Durand.

The research will assess control algorithms, interpretability, privacy issues and computation time reduction for control in the quantum environment.

NSF CAREER awards emphasize the integration of research and education to build a firm foundation of leadership. Durand intends to initiate a unique outreach program based on tutorials, hands-on coding experiences and entertaining films, including animated shorts, to excite the community about STEM concepts and present role models for younger students.

Durand came to Wayne State University in 2017 after earning her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she received numerous awards including the Edward K. Rice and the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department’s Outstanding Ph.D. student awards. Her research group’s interests include process control, cybersecurity and operational safety.

The grant number for this NSF award is 2143469.


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