UNSW Engineering to offer world first bachelor’s degree in quantum engineering

23 Jul 2020
Bachelor’s degree in quantum engineering

The new major will train the next generation of engineers to help build a $4 billion Australian quantum industry.

UNSW has introduced the world’s first undergraduate degree in quantum engineering, in response to a growing need for a workforce that can help Australia share in a multi-billion dollar industry.

The Bachelor of Quantum Engineering (Honours) will train students in advanced electronics and telecommunication engineering, specialising in how to design and control complex quantum systems. The degree will cover nanoelectronics, microwave engineering and quantum technologies for advanced sensors, secure communications and computing.

World-leading expert in quantum engineering, UNSW Scientia Professor Andrea Morello, has been the driving force behind the new degree. He said an undergraduate offering in quantum technology will be key to building a world-class quantum workforce in Australia.

“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 Morello said.

“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. 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 computing, sensing and communication technologies have powerful applications in many industries, including medicine, defence, financial services and natural resources.

In its recently released Quantum Technology Roadmap, CSIRO states that the quantum technology industry could be worth over $4 billion in revenue for Australia by 2040 and create 16,000 new jobs.

CSIRO’s Chief Scientist Cathy Foley said solving Australia’s greatest challenges needs people trained in quantum technologies to ensure we are well positioned to capture this opportunity.

“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,” Dr Foley said.

“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. So, I commend UNSW for creating the world’s first quantum qualification open to undergraduates.”

UNSW’s acting Dean of Engineering Professor Stephen Foster said students studying quantum engineering at UNSW will benefit from learning from some of the very best quantum engineers and scientists in the world.

“UNSW is home to several leaders in quantum research and students who study quantum engineering with us will learn from many of the global forerunners in this field,” Professor Foster said.

“Professor Morello pioneered teaching quantum technologies to undergraduate students over a decade ago. He’ll be joined on the teaching staff by experts including Professor Rob Malaney (quantum communications), Dr Jarryd Pla (advanced quantum devices) and Dr Hendra Nurdin (quantum control). Our faculty also includes ARC Laureate Professor Andrew Dzurak, a world leader in silicon-based quantum computing.”

The new stream will also be available as a dual Bachelor of Engineering (Quantum Engineering)/Bachelor of Advanced Science.

The first undergraduate intake will be Term 3, 2020. Interested students can find out more on the UNSW Engineering website. Further developments in quantum education are also underway between UNSW and members of the Sydney Quantum Academy (SQA), a joint initiative with the University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and Macquarie University to expand Australia’s quantum technology ecosystem. The initiative is expected to open cross-institutional study opportunities for students at SQA universities.