Home > Articles > NDEE Alum in the Quantum Computing Race

NDEE Alum in the Quantum Computing Race

Written by: Leslie Lestinsky

The engineering and launching of Sputnik was the global scientific and technological arms race of the 1950’s. Today, it’s quantum computing.

Problems that a quantum computer can solve will change the world as we know it. Today’s traditional, binary, computing models need time to process problems. A quantum computer, using quantum bits or “qubits”, will have the ability to take that same problem and process billions of “answers” not only instantaneously but simultaneously. It will process at rates we can’t fully imagine, but it will also be “unhackable.”

A quantum computer will have the power to manipulate the global economy and pave the way to a new frontier that will allow mankind to communicate faster and more securely. This major scientific innovation will upturn national security and defense, medicine, energy and more, in ways the world has not yet seen. 

This era’s “space race” has not only captured the interest of academic institutions and tech companies but has also become a topic of great national interest. 

In December 2018, President Trump signed into law the National Quantum Initiative Act. This bill dedicates $1.2 billion over the next 10 years to quantum information science research and development, in the hopes of beating China in this race and dodging the economic and security consequences of such a defeat. 

NDEE alum Hubert George
NDEE alum Hubert George
Department of Electrical Engineering (NDEE) alumnus, Hubert George is at the forefront of this technological movement. He’s one of many physicists and engineers at top tech companies across the globe running the quantum computing race.  

“My professional goal is to continue to have an impact in this field, and for our research team to lead the way by creating the world’s first scalable quantum computer to solve real life problems,” explained Hubert.

He is currently an Integration Engineer in the Components Research sector of Intel, a computing industry leader for decades now and one of the forerunners in quantum computing. He leads the charge in creating fabrication processes for qubits, the unit of information for a quantum computer.

Hubert is optimistic about the future of the race. “If someone makes a difference in quantum computing, it’s going to be Intel,” stated Hubert. “It’s a very challenging and exciting project. I believe we can be the ones driving it."

It was 14 years ago that Hubert was first introduced to Our Lady’s University. In the summer of 2005, while earning his bachelor’s of engineering at Florida International University (FIU), Hubert visited and studied at NDEE. He was a Research Experience for Undergraduates and Ronald E. McNair Scholar. 

While on campus, he studied under NDEE professor Greg Snider. Hubert knew he wanted to dig deeper into single electron engineering in graduate studies. Through this summer research experience, he was further encouraged by the expertise of Prof. Snider and his group. He found his graduate school. 

George in clean room
NDEE alum Hubert George (left) working on SET's with NDEE professors Greg Snider (middle) and Alexei Orlov (right).
Hubert graduated cum laude from FIU and quickly found himself back in the Midwest, pursuing his PhD and digging deeper at the nanoscale, alongside the Snider team. 

Working as an experimentalist allowed Hubert to make more sense of this new reality. He was able to observe the nature of life at the awe-inspiring nanoscale. He studied and worked to manipulate single electron charges and implement them for engineering applications. 

“We are so used to seeing things at a macro level. Having the chance to explore ‘reality’ at a micro-nano level–where our common sense goes out the window and a new set of laws take over–seemed like a very unique and appealing opportunity," explained Hubert.

The nature of their research team not only allowed for the leveraging of expertise and hands-on experience, fabricating devices, but also extended to testing. NDEE professor Alexei Orlov worked with Hubert to test his devices at extremely low temperatures (300mK-4K).      

NDEE alum Hubert George
NDEE alum Hubert George (middle) working at the nano-scale with NDEE professors Greg Snider (left) and Alexei Orlov (right).
“Notre dame was a great place for me to grow as a researcher,” recalled Hubert. “It offered facilities and resources to fabricate state-of-the-art devices in the nano-metric scale, but it also provided a challenging academic environment. That is essential for robust research and development.”

“It is wonderful to see the work that Hubert is doing, especially his work in quantum computing, which has the potential for a tremendous impact in the area of computing and communications,” said Snider. “One of the joys of being a professor is to help students grow and stretch themselves and then watch them blossom as researchers.”

In addition to admirably guiding Hubert’s research, professor Snider also extended his support and mentorship beyond school. 

“I consider him a friend and we are still in touch,” explained Hubert. “The rich relationships developed on campus is something that I think is very unique to the Notre Dame family.” 

Immediately following graduation in 2011, Hubert accepted a position at Intel. 

For the first five years he was in a high-volume manufacturing facility. There, he got to see firsthand the manufacturing process. He learned the ins and outs of process controls, manufactured devices, and became accustomed to Intel’s high quality of standards. That knowledge, coupled with the single electron research he did at NDEE in the Nanofabrication Facility, set him up well for his current position as an integration engineer. 

“I was more than ready for the switch from production to research,” said Hubert. 

NDEE alum Hubert George
Hubert working in the clean room lab at Intel as an Integration Engineer.
In his current position, he is able to utilize the most advanced tools and facilities that are available in the nanofabrication industry today. 

“Every day, I get the opportunity to apply novel engineering with a dynamic team of physicists and engineer scientists,” said Hubert. "For over two decades, physicists have been trying to build a quantum computer, but now, it is engineers at companies like Intel who I think can make a real difference.”

Thinking about why and how he became interested in electrical engineering, Hubert recalls that it seems to have come naturally to him as far back as he can remember. 

“I think I’ve always been an engineer at heart because I seek and appreciate reasoning,” recalled Hubert. “The way my mind works is by always troubleshooting things, systematically breaking problems into pieces for easier resolution, doing my best to measure and quantify everything that surrounds me, and always trying to obtain data to assess anything in life.”

Hubert’s advice to current PhD students: constantly evaluate what you are doing. 

“Find things to do that are interesting, that keep you engaged and curious and you see yourself developing a passion for,” explained Hubert.

To undergraduates that want to get involved in quantum research, Hubert advises, “Continue your research efforts through graduate school. Industry leaders, like Intel, only hire PhDs–the very advanced candidates–because it’s an intensive technical field that you need to be really prepared to enter into.”

As for advice he has for professionals in any field–academic or industry–he says, “Think ahead and beyond your day-to-day responsibilities. Ask questions, as well as question anything you don't agree with.”