As a prospective mechanical engineering student, you may wonder what course material you will need to study.
Many students are curious if quantum physics and quantum mechanics are necessary parts of mechanical engineering.
Others wonder if they can choose to take quantum physics and if it will improve their job opportunities.
In this short guide, you will learn the answers to these important questions and more.
Mechanical engineers do not need to take quantum mechanics to graduate. However, they may wish to do so to improve their knowledge of the field or specialize it in.
Quantum mechanics is a branch of science handling the way atomic and subatomic matter behaves.
Mechanical engineers study quantum mechanics to understand the underlying behaviors of certain types of technology.
In particular, the field is helpful for understanding lasers, transistors, microchips, microscopes, MRI machines, and GPS systems.
You bet! A mechanical engineer can become a quantum engineer.
Although quantum engineering is not a branch of mechanical engineering, mechanical engineering does provide an excellent foundation to become a quantum engineer.
Mainly, this is because both engineers may find interest in the research and analysis sector of technical machines, devices, or systems.
If you already have an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, you can pursue quantum engineering in grad school.
You will study quantum mechanics, electrical engineering, system engineering, physical science, and computer science in this program.
Quantum engineers use quantum mechanics to design and develop technologies like lasers, sensors, microelectronics, microwave systems, and advanced telecommunications.
However, they may be more focused on the primary phases of development such as research, analysis, and conceptualization.
Similar to most engineering fields, there are many different quantum engineering jobs such as:
- Quantum Research Scientist
- Quantum Physicist
- Quantum Processor
- Quantum Algorithms Developer
- Quantum Computer Engineer
- Quantum Software Engineer
- Quantum Computing Teacher
Learn more: Is Quantum Engineering Worth It?
Quantum engineering is the engineering field using the most quantum mechanics.
However, electrical, computer, mechanical, and chemical engineers may also benefit from the knowledge of quantum mechanics.
Electrical engineers may find that quantum mechanics is a core part of their academic programs, as it may be essential to work with modern semiconductors.
While computer, mechanical, and chemical engineers may not have quantum mechanics as part of their academic programs, they may find it interesting in their concentrations.
It may be especially excellent for mechanical engineers interested in materials science, nanotechnology, microelectronics, photonics, and communications.
Learn more: Can A Mechanical Engineer Do Robotics?
Most students consider quantum physics and quantum mechanics the hardest subjects in their academic careers.
That’s mainly because quantum physics approaches material differently than classical thought.
Engineering students may be proficient in logical reasoning and practical application.
After all, a great majority of their work depends on designing and testing systems with observable results.
Quantum physics asks individuals to understand theories that they cannot physically see.
It also asks people to hold the theory that something may not occupy a specific, single space.
Actually, it has a probability of being in a completely different space or being in multiple places simultaneously.
That’s why it takes a great amount of concentration and training to think in this special way.
Furthermore, quantum physics has heavy math components which many students find intimidating.
Quantum mechanics is useful for engineering, especially in research and development, or conceptual design and development of nanotechnologies and advanced equipment.
If you want to become a highly specialized engineer, you may need to pursue qualifications in quantum mechanics.
It’s also helpful to have a basic knowledge of quantum mechanics if you pursue electrical engineering, chemical engineering, or computer engineering.
For most engineering jobs, quantum mechanics is not necessary, nor is it relevant to everyday work or responsibilities.
Quantum physics and quantum mechanics are closely related, both dealing with atomic and subatomic materials.
Quantum physics focuses on what these materials are.
Physicists seek to describe atomic and subatomic particles in different contexts, such as light and matter.
Quantum mechanics focuses on how they move and impact other molecules.
Therefore, quantum mechanics may be more useful for engineers.
Keep in mind that many people may use the two terms interchangeably, but quantum mechanics is truly a sub-branch of quantum physics.
Becoming a quantum engineer can be more complex than other types of engineering.
Undergraduate degrees in quantum engineering are fairly new, so there are only a handful of universities across the United States offering these programs.
You can either apply to one of these programs, or you can pursue a related degree and specialize in quantum engineering in a graduate program.
A Bachelor’s degree in engineering, with a concentration in computer science or electronics, may be ideal for many grad programs.
To work in quantum engineering, you will need a Master’s degree or Ph.D., research experience, and expertise in programming.
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Computer engineers who want to work in quantum computing can become quantum computer engineers.
Computer engineers research, design, and develop computer systems and their components.
Quantum computing focuses on developing computers relying on quantum mechanics to solve complex problems.
Since quantum computing is still in its early stages, both in research and physical development, it is an ideal time to become a quantum computer engineer.
If you wish to concentrate on this domain, you can enroll in a computer engineering program, quantum mechanics, and mathematics.
Learn more: Is Quantum Computer The Fastest Computer?
Many engineers may find quantum mechanics interesting and relevant for their specializations.
Since quantum mechanics courses are difficult for individuals to pursue if they do not focus, it is important to do personal research into the field to determine if it is the right path for you.