SBIR and STTR Success Story for
Quantum Simulations, Inc.

(Information Posted/Updated on 02/24/2011)

Quantum Simulations, Inc.
P.O. Box 291
Murrysville, PA  15668

Contact:    Al Renshaw
Phone:      1-800-577-9040
Fax:          724-325-2062
Web Site:

Project Title:  Accessible Artificial Intelligence Tutoring Software
Related Award(s):  5 R44 EY016251-03
Technology Developed:
Through prior SBIR-supported research from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education, Quantum has successfully developed, tested and brought to the classroom the first artificial intelligence (AI) tutoring software in chemistry education. Certified by the National Federation of the Blind's (NFB) Nonvisual Accessibility Web Application Certification Program, Quantum is the first to deliver accessible artificial intelligence tutoring software for blind and visually impaired persons, creating new opportunities in the field of science exploration and education for students with special needs where the availability of accessible learning materials is virtually non-existent. Quantum has addressed this equity challenge directly by building accessibility into its existing software so all students, whether sighted or blind, access the same software program.

Key Words:  chemistry, education, artificial intelligence, software, tutor, science, blind, visually impaired.
Uses of Technology/Products/Service:
Because Quantum’s artificial intelligence tutoring software is Internet-based and equipped with a unique dialogue-driven tool that converses with students and provides personalized feedback and homework help, the software is well-suited for use with synthesized speech screen access technologies such as JAWS and Window-Eyes, already in use by individuals who are blind or visually impaired to navigate web sites and access e-mail. Equally important, the pedagogy of the software ensures that student feedback and examples provided by the Tutors are pedagogically relevant for the blind and help provide a clear mental picture of key concepts needed to improve performance and comprehension. All formulas, real-life examples and personal feedback are explained without the need for visual reference or graphics.

Accessed over the Internet 24/7, students can enter their own problem into the Quantum Tutors and receive personal, effective tutoring assistance based on their own work, subject knowledge and learning style. The software embodies the proven teaching practices of an award-winning master teacher with over 35 years of teaching experience in science and mathematics. Just like working with a real-life teacher or tutor, the Quantum Tutors can give detailed explanations for each step in a student’s problem, give students personal feedback on their own work, and let students ask questions about the concepts and skills they are trying to learn.

The simple, intuitive user interface allows students to jump right into the software and begin using the Tutors with no prior training. All technology is designed to be universally accessible for all students, blind or sighted. Students have a username and password that travels with them so they can receive tutoring help from any computer connected to the Internet…at school, in the library and most importantly, at home where a teacher isn’t available to answer questions.

At testament to the effectiveness of the Quantum Tutors, the company has received the United State Distance Learning Association’s Platinum Award for software development two consecutive years for its work in AI programming and accessible technologies for the blind.

Benefit to Company:
Quantum Simulations, Inc., a developer of artificial intelligence (AI) tutoring, assessment and professional development software has participated in the SBIR program for over ten years. During this period, Quantum has received several SBIR awards from the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation totaling over $10 million. The SBIR program has provided Quantum with critical funding to create a new generation of cognitive modeling technology for science and mathematics education, which have been fully commercialized. In addition, Quantum has been able to expand its core technology into new subject areas including accounting courses in higher education. Lastly, research from SBIR funding has allowed Quantum to secure several patent and patent-pending technologies, establish commercialization partners including textbook publisher McGraw-Hill, and build strong collaboration partners with national research organizations such as WestEd. Without the SBIR program, research grant opportunities and Quantum's commercial business model couldn’t have been realized. Quantum remains dedicated to further research and development of innovative technologies to improve education, delivering learning tools to market that are proven effective, accessible and affordable for all students.