There have been some great workshops, sessions, and discussion over the past few weeks regarding the importance of quantum in our current and future environment. The reasons are numerous as to why we need to teach students K-12 about quantum, but do they all need to be quantum experts? No, but they do need to understand the relevance of quantum in the world around them such as phones, computers, games, GPS, and virtually all of the technology they use, especially during COVID.
One of the participants last week made a comment that really stuck with me (I don’t remember who said it or I would give them credit). To paraphrase, they emphasized the need for students to be able to physically build the prototypes needed for quantum computers and other equipment. Below are some pictures from IQC labs that are cool and an impressive display of technology. It took a lot of smart people to design how these needed to work, BUT it also took people knowing HOW to build them.
Many years ago, there was a movement to take many of the “skills” classes out of the local high schools. The argument was that everything was going digital– CAD, computers, etc. Of course computer science is important, but so are those trade schools and skills. A quantum genius can design elaborate computer and equipment, but someone has to know how to build it. I think we have lost sight of the importance of the trade skills, and we need to reflect on their contribution to our society before it is too late and they are no longer there.
I have a friend’s son took woodworking in HS and loved it. Now he has a career designing and building all sorts of things with wood. Cabinets, tables, railings, floors, chairs…..all of the things we use on a daily basis. The cutting board he made me is almost too pretty to use!
It takes all types of trades and expertise to keep our communities and economy healthy. I challenge you to look around and appreciate all that is there. Support your local businesses, craftsman, and skills people. We will need them if we are to continue to advance in other areas, like quantum!