Inventing solutions with quantum computing

Inventing solutions with quantum computing

By Katy Hennig

Inventing solutions with quantum computing

By Katy Hennig
Engineering Alumnus of Distinction develops global connections to find solutions.

As a master inventor, it may be easy to say, "everyone can figure it out." But, according to Watson, and Robert Loredo, BSIT '02, MSECE '04, we can.

Loredo holds more than 150 patents and continues to invent. As a lead inventor and developer at IBM, he thinks we should all listen closer to find solutions and ask: what’s the problem?  

The first response in any crisis requires coordinated communication and precision. Connecting the right people, in the right places is critical. IBM is leading the way in building and providing the platforms and latest available tools to fight against COVID-19. Anyone from around the world can collaborate virtually to design and develop ideas and connectivity solutions for those in need.

A global community of access to share and review data and resources; from science and virus tracking, to business sustainability networks. The open source concept of cloud computing brings together diverse input and ideas and encourages collaborative excellence. When great minds from an array of backgrounds converge, ideas emerge.

Loredo encourages community participation and knowledge sharing through the integrated technology, and describes his passion for a career innovating and developing solutions to tough problems. "I would never have imagined having more than two, or maybe three patents in my life," he shares. "But innovating and collaborating with others who share the same passion of not only innovating, but innovating in a way that helps society as a whole, definitely has made it easy and fun."

Learn more about Robert Loredo and how to connect in this Q & A:

How are you and your team utilizing Watson to connect health information, data and researchers? Why is integrated communication key in a crisis like COVID-19? 

Since 2018 IBM has been the founding partner of an initiative called, Call for Code. Since the launch of the first Call for Code challenge in 2019, anyone from around the world can compete to design and develop ideas and solutions for those in need. 

Last year the challenge was to find a way to help first responders during natural disasters. Back then I, along with the Code and Response team, led a 24-hour hackathon challenge at Miami Dade College. We made available all Watson services for free, including training sessions and starter kits that they had access to design and implement their solutions. The program was so successful that they made a documentary about it.

This year, Call for Code 2020 has expanded to include the fight against COVID-19. In a very short amount of time we were asked to put together starter kits that includes AI, Cloud, Data repositories, and many other components needed to help fight the pandemic. This of course is not limited to researchers in the medical field. There are many problems at a community level which need to be addressed and community outreach to help identify resources medicine, food, household products for those in need.

IBM has also offered free access to its Patent Portfolio to combat COVID-19.

How could Quantum Computing and big data help to visualize, monitor, and predict outcomes in a beneficial way?

I do want to preface this by saying that quantum computing is still an emerging technology that has the potential to provide solutions to intractable problems classical computers have, however the systems still do not have the quantum volume (metric used to determine the performance of a quantum computer) to solve real-world problems.

That being said, we are definitely in an incredible point in the quantum computing world in that this “quantum ready” phase we are in, is rapidly gaining momentum with research all around the world. Ever since IBM deployed the world’s first open source quantum computer on the cloud in 2016 and made it available for anyone to use for free, it helped catapult research in both hardware and software.

The potential that quantum computers offer classical systems is both the ability to compute a massive amount of information, or produce hyper accurate results with less parameters that classical systems.

Of course, at this time these are considered “toy problems”, but what we learn from them now, will help us prepare when the systems have enough quantum volume that allows us to enter the quantum advantage phase. It’s during this phase which we will see real world problems being solved by quantum computers.    

You earned both of your computer and electrical engineering degrees at the U—can you share a few details on how your experience here set you on your career path, leading to where you are now?

I’ve always been a fan of the U. It was not only an honor but a privilege to have been accepted. And to be honest, was also quite a long shot considering I had dropped out of high school to join a rock band. But that’s another story for another day. 

My experiences can be split into two pieces that eventually converge into one. 

First, the professors at the College of Engineering were very helpful in advising me on certain aspects of a career in engineering. Meaning after lectures, they would be available to talk about the latest technology, industry strategies, and how to research and innovate. In fact, when I transitioned from undergrad to graduate, they provided me many opportunities to work alongside them on some of their projects. Here we helped each other, because as I didn’t have an opportunity to get an internship, I was able to work on graduate projects which they themselves were projects from either large companies, or government agencies. The experience that I got working directly with these projects definitely helped increase the experience section of my resume. 

The second of course, are the students and student organizations. I have made many friends both in and out of engineering that still to this day I keep in touch with. The alumni network here is incredible, and it’s very easy to find us during football season, I think all ’Canes have at least one banner or statue of Sebastian somewhere in their office.

The student societies and organizations are incredible in that they not only offer support to all students, but also help reach whatever goal they may have. The two organizations I was involved with the most were the Dean’s Dozen, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, which I am still a member of the professional chapter. 

How the two converge is that now a lot of my professors are friends, and I learn so much from my fellow alumni, both professionally and personally. It’s most definitely GREAT TO BE A MIAMI HURRICANE! (Is that song/chant in your head now? Good, mine too! GO ’CANES!)

Why is it important to innovate and apply new technologies to bring solutions to society? Developing more than 150 patents, you're always looking for a new approach. Can you share your perspective?

I think my fascination with inventing goes back to when I was a teenager taking apart my electric guitar and amplifier and putting it back together again to make it sound different. When I started college and eventually changed my major from music engineering to computer engineering, it opened up so many ideas. With the help of many mentors throughout my life as a student and professionally, I just learned how to look at problems and find some interesting ideas.

I would never have imagined having more than two, or maybe three patents in my life. But innovating and collaborating with others who share the same passion of not only innovating, but innovating in a way that helps society as a whole, definitely has made it easy and fun. Even to this day, it's still the most fun I have at work. Taking time to learn about new technologies such as AI, bioinformatics, Cloud, IoT, blockchain, virtual/augmented reality, and now Quantum, is both challenging and exciting! 

This is not to say that you have to be an engineer to innovate. Far be it! Most of the patents I have are solutions to everyday problems. You just have to think of a unique solution to the problem that is efficient, novel, and buildable. A very good rule of thumb I learned from one of my early mentors was to always write down when someone says, "You know what I hate?" This is because what they are about to say next is a problem that might not have a good solution. With that, you are already half way there. Just find a unique solution to that problem, and you just might have a novel idea and can be an inventor yourself!  

Quote/mantra"A leader is defined not by how many followers they have, but by how many leaders they create"