- The University of New South Wales (UNSW) offers the world’s first undergraduate degree in Quantum Engineering.
- Students of the Bachelor of Quantum Engineering (Honors) will learn about advanced electronics and telecommunications engineering, specializing in ways to design and control quantum systems.
- UNSW Scientia professor Andrea Morello told Business Insider Australia why the degree would benefit Australia’s manufacturing sector.
- Visit the Business Insider Australia homepage for more stories.
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) offers a first undergraduate degree in Quantum Engineering.
Students of the Bachelor of Quantum Engineering (Honors) will learn about advanced electronics and telecommunications engineering, specializing in ways to design and control quantum systems. The degree will also cover microwave engineering, nanoelectronics, and quantum technologies for advanced sensors, secure communications, and computing.
Andrea Morello, professor at UNSW Scientia, told Business Insider Australia that the fastest way to sum up quantum engineering is to think of it as “electronics engineering for the 21st century.”
“For a very long time, you could get a degree in electrical or electronic engineering basically without knowing much about the intimate and profound ways in which these electronic devices actually work,” he said.
Morello used the example of a mobile phone. “You probably know that there are hundreds of millions, if not billions of transistors in there and these transistors are tiny devices made of silicon,” he said. “They act like little switches [and] they encode digital information – most people know that.
“But to really understand how they work on an intimate level, you have to understand quantum mechanics.”
He added that over the past 10 to 20 years, the level of understanding has changed. “The level of microscopic control that we have over electronic devices is so advanced and so extreme that on the one hand, you really can’t be an electronics engineer anymore without understanding the quantum behavior of electrons,” he said. .
And once we understand this behavior, it opens up a world of possibilities for new technologies. These technologies, Morello said, could be “evolutionary” or “revolutionary”. Scalable technologies include QLED TVs – for quantum dot light-emitting diode televisions – which deliver brighter, more vivid images. Revolutionary technologies, on the other hand, include quantum computers. Quantum computing and technology have applications in medicine, financial services, defense, and natural resources.
Morello also explained why the university launched the new quantum engineering degree.
“The reason we created this Bachelor of Quantum Engineering is that if you really want to be an electronics engineer in the 21st century, now there’s almost no reason why you don’t want to be ready to do it all – to both classic stuff that has been around for a long time and will continue to exist, as well as new and revolutionary stuff.
A $ 4 billion industry
According to CSIRO, Australia’s quantum technology industry could generate more than $ 4 billion in revenue by 2040 and create 16,000 new jobs. The research was revealed in a webinar earlier this year.
“There were venture capitalists investing in this area and they were of the opinion [that] these numbers are extremely conservative, ”said Morello.
CSIRO chief scientist Cathy Foley said in a statement that quantum technology will create new markets, applications and jobs in Australia.
“Australian science has been innovating in quantum technologies for almost three decades,” she said. “To maintain this leadership position and ensure that we capture our share of this high-tech, high-value opportunity, it is crucial that education providers expand their quantum offerings.
“We need to build a quantum technology workforce in Australia that can translate our cutting-edge research into solutions to real-world challenges. “
Generate a supply of workers in this industry
The idea for the new UNSW degree came after more than a decade.
Morello joined the university 14 years ago in a research position only before he started teaching. He wanted to start a postgraduate course in quantum electronics devices while a colleague of his wanted to start a postgraduate course in quantum communications. These courses have been developed and have been successful.
The university had also continued to attract talent from around the world, culminating in a group of senior and junior researchers and professors who have the expertise to create more courses in the quantum field. And this led to the creation of the new diploma.
The new degree aims to create a skilled workforce that can help develop the quantum industry in Australia – essentially generating the supply needed to strengthen the industry.
Morello added that while Australia does not historically have a huge manufacturing base, the government was aware of how quantum technologies could be a new industry.
“Because Australia has such a concentration of know-how in the sector – and we are trying to do our part to contribute more – it means that there really is a golden opportunity to establish a manufacturing sector in Australia. given that we will have the workforce actually trained to develop that.
And this industry already has a lot of interest.
“The private sector is very interested in taking advantage of this and the government is also very aware that this is a golden opportunity,” Morello said.
The first batch of students will start in term 3, 2020.