A Sydney university has announced a world-first degree in quantum engineering will be offered to students starting in 2020’s third term.
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney’s east will offer a new bachelor’s degree to students interested in the growing field of quantum engineering. It’s called the Bachelor of Engineering (Quantum Engineering) / Bachelor of Advanced Science, and the university hopes the move will fill a skills shortage in the country.
“As it stands, there simply aren’t enough qualified engineers to fill the jobs needing quantum skills in Australia — or anywhere in the world, in fact,” Professor Andrea Morello, a quantum engineering expert at UNSW, said in the announcement.
Quantum technology can be a tough to explain simply, but it's essentially using the strange laws of quantum mechanics to build superior technology and gadgets. Imagine supercomputers capable of completing extraordinarily fast processing; batteries that last for years on a single charge -- science-fiction- sounding stuff.
"Quantum engineering is the microelectronic and microwave engineering of the 21st century. It is not science fiction: you can already buy quantum-dot TVs and quantum-enabled mobile phones in the shops, right now," Professor Morello said.
"Developing and applying the cutting-edge technologies in these fields demands a deep understanding of their quantum nature. Moreover, this understanding can also be used to develop devices and capabilities that have no precedent, like quantum computers and quantum secure telecommunications. This is why we created the new degree."
Quantum technology could soon be a billion-dollar industry in Australia
Australia's peak science agency, CSIRO, praised the move, referencing its recent report into quantum technology. It expects the field will become a $4 billion industry by 2040, contributing 16,000 new jobs.
It explained in order for this to happen, education providers needed to respond to emerging technologies by training up the workforce.
"Quantum technology is set to transform electronics, communications, computation, sensing and other fields. It will create new markets, new applications and new jobs in Australia," CSIRO's Chief Scientist Cathy Foley said in the announcement.
"Australian science has been breaking new ground in quantum technologies for almost three decades. To maintain this position of leadership and ensure we capture our share of this high tech, high value opportunity, it's crucial that education providers expand their quantum offerings.
"We need to build a quantum technology workforce in Australia that can translate our world-leading research into solutions to real-world challenges."
In late 2019, Google claimed to be the first to achieve some pretty supreme quantum computing.
It alleged it had built a quantum computer that solved a problem in 200 seconds, while the world's fastest supercomputer would take 10,000 years to finish. It was an extraordinary story, but one that has since been doubted by competitors like IBM as well as others in the field.
Either way, quantum engineering is an exciting new field and now young Australians will have a pathway to join the technology race.