Press Releases

Wexton Visits George Mason University to Highlight Funding Secured for Quantum Science Workforce Initiative

Washington, DC – This week, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), member of the House Appropriations Committee, visited George Mason University’s campus in Fairfax to highlight the $650,000 she successfully secured to support K-20 quantum workforce development efforts in Northern Virginia. The funding, which Wexton requested as part of the Community Project Funding program last year, is included in the fiscal year 2022 appropriations legislation that was signed into law in March.

“I'm proud to have successfully secured $650,000 in federal funding to help George Mason University develop some of the first quantum science curricula for elementary and secondary schools and lay the groundwork for a new generation of high-tech professionals here in Virginia,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the professors at Mason who will lead the charge on this exciting project as well as hear about other ways faculty and students are working to better our community. I look forward to the fascinating ways this quantum science curriculum will empower our region’s students to tackle some of today’s greatest challenges.”

Wexton met with Dr. Gregory Washington, President of George Mason University, as well as faculty involved in the development of the quantum science curricula, to learn more about how this federal funding will make the project possible and ways local students across the region will benefit.

“It is my honor to welcome Congresswoman Wexton to Mason’s Fairfax Campus,” Mason President Greg Washington said. “She continues to be a true champion for science, innovation, and education.” Washington went on to note that, “It is exciting that the Congresswoman is here to see how we are making a difference in our community and the Commonwealth in the areas of Quantum science, cybersecurity, Covid mitigation, health care workforce, and policing reform.  Our experts were able to articulate how the federal support she is helping to provide is instrumental in the success of these efforts.”

“It is great to talk to Congresswoman Wexton about our efforts to build the Quantum workforce,” said Jessica Rosenberg, Mason’s Associate Professor for Physics and Astronomy. Rosenberg noted that the Congresswoman, “has made it possible for us to help teachers and students learn about these exciting new technologies and the opportunities for careers in this field by supporting our Community Project proposal. These efforts will connect quantum to core subjects and provide opportunities for students to see what the quantum industry is all about. By growing the pipeline of students interested in quantum we will prepare our region and beyond for the second quantum revolution.”

"Congressman Wexton really understands the value of a diverse cybersecurity workforce and the impact that diversity has on innovation. Her support for what George Mason is doing to expand the talent pipeline, and to facilitate broad participation in the tech talent endeavor, is critical to scaling our initiatives," said Liza Wilson Durant, PhD, Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Community Engagement, and Director of the Northern Virginia Node of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative.

Professor Charlotte Gill, Deputy Director of Mason’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy shared several initiatives that the center is undertaking. “The Center is actively engaged in partnership with both police agencies and communities to improve policing in the U.S. We were pleased to share this work with the Congresswoman, given her interest in policing reform.”

P.J. Maddox, Chair of Mason’s Health Administration and Policy, discussed Mason’s new Virginia Health Workforce Center and how it is responding to the growing shortage in all areas of health professions. “Virginia is particularly vulnerable and the Congresswoman understands that,” Maddox said. “She was generous with her time and we were also able to explain what Mason has been doing to respond to Covid through mass vaccinations, antibody rapid testing, symptom tracking and disease prediction.”

The George Mason University Quantum Science and Engineering Center (QSEC) project will develop interest and basic knowledge of quantum in elementary and secondary students in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, create some of the first elementary and secondary quantum curricula, and provide career-connected and experiential learning experiences for students and teachers. The program would also include an evaluation component to gain insight into the efficacy of these efforts and position the QSEC to gain support from other funding sources for the most effective elements of these programs into the future.