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Research Experience for Undergraduates

The Quantum Algorithms and Optimization (QAO) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the University of Tennessee is a unique opportunity for students to conduct quantum computing related research and apply this cutting-edge methodology to solve currently intractable, real-world optimization problems. Projects will engage with faculty from both the Departments of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) and Physics and Astronomy (PA).  This interdisciplinary experience will familiarize students with combinatorial optimization problems and the latest quantum algorithms that may yield approximate solutions to these challenging problems.  Students will work in multidisciplinary teams to either tackle an unresolved optimization problem or develop mathematical theory that proves or disproves quantum algorithm viability.  Additionally, QAO students may participate in other professional development activities such as seminars by leading quantum computing experts, showcases to present and discuss their research, and team building experiences with other REU students from across campus.

The NSF ETAP system is used to collect REU applications. Please visit for the 2024 QAO REU application.


In order to be eligible for participation in the QAO REU, students must be:

  1. A U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  2. Currently enrolled in an undergraduate program. Students graduating by August 2024 are not eligible to participate.
  3. Majoring in mathematics, physics, computer science, industrial engineering, chemistry, electrical engineering, or closely related fields.

Preferred student qualifications include:

  1. A cumulative GPA of at least 3.0/4.0 in all STEM courses
  2. At least three semesters of physics
  3. Knowledge of linear algebra
  4. Experience using Python


The tentative timeline for the 2024 QAO REU is:

  • October 15 – Applications open
  • January 15 – Applications due
  • Mid February – Acceptances sent
  • Late February– Responses due & additional round of acceptances sent, if needed
  • May 26 – Students arrive on campus
  • May 28 – First day of REU
  • August 2 – Last day of REU