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Why We’re On A Mission To Ensure Every High School Student Learns Quantum Computing

Students from The Coding School’s Summer 2020 quantum computing course for high school students.

Most students will not be exposed to quantum computing until graduate school. However, over the next decade, we think that quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize technology — and the future will be led by those who know how to use these devices. That’s why we’re on a mission to provide early access to quality quantum education and ensure that every high school student, regardless of if they plan to go into a STEM-related field or not, learns quantum computing.

To do this, The Coding School is collaborating with IBM Quantum to offer a first-of-its-kind, eight-month introduction to quantum computing course for high school students and above. Open to 5,000 students, the course is free, virtual, and consists of live instruction from MIT and Oxford quantum scientists. Ready to prepare yourself for the future of work? Learn more and apply here.

What Is Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing is an up-and-coming field of technology that could one day advance our computing capabilities and solve problems unsolvable by today’s computers. Significant strides have been made over the last few years. Unlike classical computing, which manipulates bits of data stored in zeroes and ones with logic operations, quantum computers use systems called qubits to store and manipulate data in a manner similar to the way that subatomic particles interact. This could lead to exponentially faster processing for certain problems beyond the scope of modern hardware. For example, we think their advantage will cut down the time necessary to develop new drugs. Once they reach their full computing capabilities, perhaps they could help find vaccines for pandemic-inducing diseases.

To this day, researchers and companies know we are under-prepared for the growing quantum needs of the future and that now is the time to educate the next researchers. Quantum demands are projected across almost all industries, and we’re not alone. Just two months ago, the US government announced a $1 billion investment in quantum & AI research through 2025. You’ll even find quantum in places you wouldn’t expect — one of Qubit by Qubit’s advisors, Spiros Michalakis, served as a quantum consultant for Marvel’s Avengers, and Goldman Sachs brought on their first quantum partnership to leverage the computing power of quantum. Although this quantum revolution won’t happen overnight, quantum computing revenue and cost-savings are projected to rise exponentially over the next decades. A report by Boston Consulting Group projects that in the next 5 years, quantum computing could generate $2-$5 billion worth of value for end users, and in the next 30 years, when quantum computing reaches its peak, $450-$850 billion.

Why Should High Schoolers Go Quantum?

We know that early exposure and access to technical education is important for fostering long-term engagement and in-depth understanding. Early quantum education allows students to gain exposure in a field they might dismiss or not know about otherwise. Additionally, as more students learn quantum computing at an early age, the more diverse perspectives we have that can help further advance the field. Furthermore, we believe on a societal level that an educated and equitable quantum workforce will help foster innovation, shared prosperity, and social mobility as students will be increasingly competitive in the future workforce.

Humanities and social science students will also benefit from learning quantum computing. Many students think they should only learn STEM if they want to go into a STEM-related field, but this is far from the case. Quantum computing could have implications in fields that traverse the social sciences and humanities, including healthcare, finance, and policy. As our future evolves, it’s clear that quantum could play a major role in every industry, and this base-level familiarity will give students an understanding of this new world we’re creating with quantum. We’ve seen how classical computing technology has revolutionized our world, and we want to give everyone access behind the screens as quantum continues to do the same.

We know the future of work will look very different from what work currently looks like, and it’s important we provide students with the education necessary to define this quantum future for themselves. Once quantum computing becomes mainstream, it will be far more difficult to upskill workers. As quantum will alter the needs and processes of organizations, those who learn about this field will have a competitive advantage in the workplace. That’s why it is important we start educating the future workforce now so they are prepared for the skills they will need in the next several decades.

Beyond the importance of upskilling, quantum computing teaches important life skills to be used both in the workplace and outside of it. Because of the newness of the field, there is still much to learn. As it stands today, quantum computing technologies are few and far between. Students have the chance to become explorers and are presented with the opportunity to write the next chapter in the epic journey of quantum computing. Moreover, students learn to become comfortable with the uncertainty of a new field: Quantum computing requires becoming comfortable with not having all of the answers — a life skill frequently missing from classes in the hard sciences.

What we’re so excited about teaching high school students quantum computing is that every student is on a level playing field. For most, this will be the first time they have been introduced to this topic, and it allows all students the chance to succeed, regardless of their prior education.

How High School Students Can Learn Quantum Computing

With the global persistence of COVID-19, we’ve been shown that now, more than ever, we’re been required to think outside the box, to reimagine what our future can and should look like in this resurgence of remote learning. Centers of quantum education are growing across the globe, but never before has there been a centralized location for young people to learn about this field. With IBM Quantum, we’re thrilled to be able to offer a free, eight-month introduction to quantum computing course to high school students and above so they can begin their quantum journeys.

Led by Francisca Vasconselos, a Rhodes Scholar and MIT graduate, and Amir Karamlou, a National Science Foundation Fellow and Graduate Fellow at MIT, students will be introduced to the field of quantum, including quantum mechanics, quantum computation, and quantum algorithms. Using IBM Quantum Experience and Qiskit, students will even run programs on a real quantum computer.

For the first time, high school course credit is widely available for students in the U.S. and abroad for completing the course. If you are an administrator interested in offering Qubit by Qubit’s Introduction to Quantum Computing for credit at your own school, please reach out to outreach@qubitbyqubit.org.

Ensuring the Future Quantum Workforce is Inclusive

Integral to IBM Quantum and The Coding School’s mission is to ensure the future quantum workforce is diverse and inclusive. To this end, we are committed to making quantum education accessible and to reducing barriers to entry. IBM Quantum is sponsoring 5,000 students to take this course for free. To support this community, we are committed to providing programming that supports traditionally underrepresented and underserved communities in quantum, such as panel discussions, community groups, and outreach efforts. It is through this diverse, global community that we imagine quantum computing reaching its fullest and most equitable potential across the world.

Apply now for The Coding School’s Introduction to Quantum Computing course with IBM Quantum. The application deadline has been extended to Saturday, October 17 at 5pm ET. Apply here: https://www.qubitbyqubit.org/register

This post was written by Kiera Peltz, the founder of The Coding School and the executive director of Qubit by Qubit.

A community to discuss Qiskit, programming quantum computers, and anything else related to quantum computing.

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The Coding School

The Coding School

We’re on a mission to make coding education accessible, supportive, and empowering for all students to thrive through coding.

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