On 5 August, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) debuted a new website — Q12education.org — in support of the National Q-12 Education Partnership, and designed to help K-12 teachers incorporate lessons on quantum science and quantum engineering into their classroom curricula. IEEE-USA, with support from the IEEE Quantum Initiative, is proud to be a founding partner of this new initiative.
The Q-12 Education Partnership recognizes that K-12 teachers need help with this subject. Very few of our primary teachers have training in quantum science. And the subject isn’t one you can just pick up simply by reading a few articles. OSTP wants to help our teachers by providing lesson plans, tutorials, activities, webinars and other resources for them, packaged in one neat, easy-to-navigate website.
While some of these resources will be developed by OSTP, NSF and other government agencies, most will not. Rather than recreating the wheel, OSTP chose to partner with 13 industry, scientific and engineering groups, including IEEE-USA. Q12education.org will aggregate resources that these groups have already developed, making it easy for teachers to find and use them.
Within IEEE, many of these resources are being developed by the IEEE Quantum Initiative, which is part of IEEE Future Directions. The Quantum Initiative brings together experts on quantum technology and research from around the world. It has run conferences and produced tutorials focused on quantum technologies, and expects to do more moving forward.
Quantum engineering is still an emerging field, and experts differ on just how impactful it will be. But many people believe quantum computers and other quantum technologies will be billion-dollar businesses within the next decade, and to remain the leader in the field, the United States will need a workforce capable of handling the unique challenges posed by quantum technology. This means we will need not only skilled engineers and scientists, but also technicians, machinists, and factory workers with the unique skills demanded by this emerging field.
Q12 Education is an attempt by the government to get ahead of this challenge by exposing students to quantum science early, in the hopes of attracting young professionals to the field as it matures over the coming years.
IEEE-USA, as IEEE’s face to the U.S. government, is excited about this partnership with OSTP, and looks forward to helping America’s teachers tackle this intimidating but fascinating field.
Russell Harrison is director of IEEE-USA Government Relations.