Quantum technologies feature in NUS programme for schools

CQT researchers designed a two-day workshop on quantum computing for a new programme supported by the Temasek Foundation to nurture Singapore youths
28 February 2022

CQT Principal Investigator Berthold-Georg Englert gave Yio Chu Kang Secondary School students an introduction to quantum physics and what quantum researchers do. Image: NUS


CQT Principal Investigators led a workshop on quantum computing for secondary school students on 28 and 29 January, as part of a new programme by NUS School of Continuing and Lifelong Education (NUS SCALE) supported by Temasek Foundation.

The “Temasek Foundation-NUS Youths for SG: Building a Shared Future” programme offers short courses showcasing the multi- and inter-disciplinarity of university education. It aims to help youths facing challenges in knowing where their interests, strengths and values lie, as well as identifying their future career aspirations.

CQT’s Berthold-Georg Englert and Yvonne Gao designed the two-day course “What is Quantum Computing?” specially for this programme.

As part of a pilot run, the courses will be delivered to students from four schools under Singapore’s Ministry of Education. The programme kicked off with 40 Secondary 3 students from Yio Chu Kang Secondary School (YCKSS) signing up for three short courses. The quantum computing workshop was the second course taken by this group.

At the workshop, students were introduced to quantum physics and its applications. Berge and Yvonne were joined by other researchers in presenting the sessions. CQT Research Fellow Hue Jun Hao Alexander took the students on a whistlestop tour of physics, while CQT PhD student Angelina Frank led a small team of students presenting an interactive guessing game.

Haw Jing Yan, a Research Fellow in the NUS Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, worked with his colleagues in the group of CQT Principal Investigator Charles Lim to design and deliver a hands-on experience. Using a Raspberry Pi computer to control LED lights and operate a camera, the students had a taste of basic Python coding to make a quantum random number generator. They also learned how random numbers of quantum origin can make secure passwords to help protect the privacy of our communications.

“Learning about coding in this workshop has been very fulfilling. For someone who had not learnt about quantum physics or coding, I now understand how quantum technology can be better utilised,” shared a YCKSS student.

“I learnt so many things that are outside the classroom such as how to read histograms, the history of quantum physics, and binary numbers,” said another student.

Students from Yio Chu Kang Secondary School had a go at using Python to code simple quantum applications. Image: NUS

Yvonne shared about her research at the quantum labs and the important applications of quantum computers and technology.

“Not only do quantum computers have the potential to solve complex problems much faster than classical computers, they can also be the enabling technology to power many exciting and transformative innovations in the next decade,” she highlighted.

Adding a twist to the showcase of commercialisation examples of quantum research, Angelina and her collaborators presented examples of potential quantum technology start-ups à la “Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction”. Students voted on the start-ups that they believed to be real and were surprised at the results.

The final part of the workshop involved a guest panel of speakers in different roles within the quantum technology industry. The speakers were Ms Amanda Chew, Product Manager from Horizon Quantum Computing; Mr Huang Junye, Quantum Developer Advocate from IBM Qiskit; Mr Ling Keok Tong, Director (Smart Nation & Digital Economy) from National Research Foundation, Singapore; Mr Seow Jian Zhi, Consultant from SimplifyNext; and Ms Yanina Blaclard, Marketing and Communications Manager from Horizon Quantum Computing.

They shared about their background, career experiences in the field, and offered advice to those who may be interested in entering the technology industry.

“There are so many pathways such as communications to strategy and marketing that one can take to join the technology industry,” Ms Blaclard shared.

“There are so many useful skills you can learn in classes and CCAs in school and from talking to seniors that can help you open more options,” Mr Ling added.

The programme series for YCKSS began in November 2021. The first part was “Placemaking: Reconnecting with Singapore”, a three-day programme facilitated by Dr Kuan Yee Han from NUS’s Tembusu College. The series will conclude with “Building a Society for the Third Age” to be held in March. Students will be diving deeper into ageing and social inclusion through workshops and field trips led by the Social Inclusion Project at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

The CQT team expect to teach their course twice more in 2022 for other schools joining the Temasek Foundation-NUS Youths for SG programme.


This text is adapted from a news highlight by NUS.