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  1. This Work in Progress (WIP) paper describes the development of a middle school program focused on an integrated STEM architectural engineering design project and exploration of career pathways. The current engineering workforce is increasingly aging, needing new engineering graduates to meet the industry demands. It is crucial to create inclusive educational programs in STEM to expose and connect with youths from diverse backgrounds, especially the demographics that are underrepresented, in STEM career paths. Middle school is a pivotal time for generating students’ awareness of and promoting pathways into STEM careers; however, opportunities to engage in engineering are often lacking or nonexistent, particularly for low-income students. Additionally, low-income students may bring particular experiences and skills from their backgrounds to engineering that may increase the innovation of engineering solutions. These assets are important to recognize and cultivate in young students. The Middle School Architectural Engineering Pilot Program (MSAEPP), drawing from social cognitive career theory and identity-based motivation, is an intervention designed to affect STEM related content and STEM identities, motivation, and career goals for low-income students using relatable topics within the building industry. The focus on architectural engineering activities is because buildings, and the industry they represent, touch everyone’s lives. The MSAEPPmore »is planned to be implemented through the Talent Search Programs at middle schools in Pennsylvania. The Talent Search Program is one of the Federal TRIO Programs dedicated to assisting high school students in furthering their education. Penn State Talent Search Programs serve 22 schools in 8 impoverished school districts. The pilot program engages middle school students (seventh and eighth grade) in architectural engineering related lessons and activities, by exploring engineering identities interactions with architectural engineering industry professionals, and by planning potential career pathways in architectural engineering and other STEM careers with Talent Search Counselors. The purpose of this paper is to present the background and process used in this funded NSF project for developing the suite of architectural engineering related lessons and activities and the research plan for answering the research question: How does the combination of meaningful engineering learning, exposure to professional engineers, and career planning, focused on building industry engineering applications, increase identity-based motivation of students from low-income households and marginalized students in pursuing STEM careers? Answering this question will inform future work developing interventions that target similar goals and will validate and expand the identity-based motivation framework. Keywords: middle school, identity, motivation, informal education.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  2. This Work in Progress (WIP) paper describes the development of a middle school program focused on an integrated STEM architectural engineering design project and exploration of career pathways. The current engineering workforce is increasingly aging, needing new engineering graduates to meet the industry demands. It is crucial to create inclusive educational programs in STEM to expose and connect with youths from diverse backgrounds, especially the demographics that are underrepresented, in STEM career paths. Middle school is a pivotal time for generating students’ awareness of and promoting pathways into STEM careers; however, opportunities to engage in engineering are often lacking or nonexistent, particularly for low-income students. Additionally, low-income students may bring particular experiences and skills from their backgrounds to engineering that may increase the innovation of engineering solutions. These assets are important to recognize and cultivate in young students. The Middle School Architectural Engineering Pilot Program (MSAEPP), drawing from social cognitive career theory and identity-based motivation, is an intervention designed to affect STEM-related content and STEM identities, motivation, and career goals for low-income students using relatable topics within the building industry. The focus on architectural engineering activities is because buildings, and the industry they represent, touch everyone’s lives. The MSAEPP ismore »planned to be implemented through the Talent Search Programs at middle schools in Pennsylvania. The Talent Search Program is one of the Federal TRIO Programs dedicated to assisting high school students in furthering their education. Penn State Talent Search Programs serve 22 schools in 8 impoverished school districts. The pilot program engages middle school students (seventh and eighth grade) in architectural engineering-related lessons and activities, by exploring engineering identities interactions with architectural engineering industry professionals, and by planning potential career pathways in architectural engineering and other STEM careers with Talent Search Counselors. The purpose of this paper is to present the background and process used in this funded NSF project for developing the suite of architectural engineering related lessons and activities and the research plan for answering the research question: How do the combination of meaningful engineering learning, exposure to professional engineers, and career planning, focused on building industry engineering applications, increase identity-based motivation of students from low-income households and marginalized students in pursuing STEM careers? Answering this question will inform future work developing interventions that target similar goals and will validate and expand the identity-based motivation framework. Keywords: middle school, identity, motivation, informal education.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  4. Realizing quantum speedup for practically relevant, computationally hard problems is a central challenge in quantum information science. Using Rydberg atom arrays with up to 289 qubits in two spatial dimensions, we experimentally investigate quantum algorithms for solving the Maximum Independent Set problem. We use a hardware-efficient encoding associated with Rydberg blockade, realize closed-loop optimization to test several variational algorithms, and subsequently apply them to systematically explore a class of graphs with programmable connectivity. We find the problem hardness is controlled by the solution degeneracy and number of local minima, and experimentally benchmark the quantum algorithm’s performance against classical simulated annealing. On the hardest graphs, we observe a superlinear quantum speedup in finding exact solutions in the deep circuit regime and analyze its origins.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 5, 2023
  5. Quantum spin liquids, exotic phases of matter with topological order, have been a major focus in physics for the past several decades. Such phases feature long-range quantum entanglement that can potentially be exploited to realize robust quantum computation. We used a 219-atom programmable quantum simulator to probe quantum spin liquid states. In our approach, arrays of atoms were placed on the links of a kagome lattice, and evolution under Rydberg blockade created frustrated quantum states with no local order. The onset of a quantum spin liquid phase of the paradigmatic toric code type was detected by using topological string operators that provide direct signatures of topological order and quantum correlations. Our observations enable the controlled experimental exploration of topological matter and protected quantum information processing.
  6. Existence and uniqueness results for solutions of stochastic differential equations (SDEs) under exceptionally weak conditions are well known in the case where the diffusion coeffcient is nondegenerate. Here, existence and uniqueness of strong solutions is obtained in the case of degenerate SDEs in a class that is motivated by diffusion representations for solutions of Schrödinger initial value problems. In such examples, the dimension of the range of the diffusion coeffcient is exactly half that of the state. In addition to this degeneracy, two types of discontinuities and singularities in the drift are allowed, where these are motivated by the structure of the Coulomb potential. The first type consists of discontinuities that may occur on a possibly high-dimensional manifold. The second consists of singularities that may occur on a smoothly parameterized curve.
  7. Multi- and hyperspectral imaging modalities encompass a growing number of spectral techniques that find many applications in geospatial, biomedical and machine vision fields. The rapidly increasing number of applications requires a convenient easy-to-navigate software that can be used by new and experienced users to analyze data, develop, apply, and deploy novel algorithms. Herein, we present our platform, IDCube that performs essential operations in hyperspectral data analysis to realize the full potential of spectral imaging. The strength of the software lies in its interactive features that enable the users to optimize parameters and obtain visual input for the user. The entire software can be operated without any prior programming skills allowing interactive sessions of raw and processed data. IDCube Lite, a free version of the software described in the paper, has many benefits compared to existing packages and offers structural flexibility to discover new hidden features.