As part of her trip to Hong Kong, 2018 Australian of the Year, Professor Michelle Simmons visited the Australian International School Hong Kong on Thursday, 21 June.
In January this year, Professor Simmons was named Australian of the Year in recognition of her pioneering research and leadership in quantum computing. Professor Simmons is a UNSW Professor of Physics and Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology based at The University of NSW. As Centre Director, she leads a team of more than 200 researchers at eight Australian Universities.
Greeted on arrival by Head of School, Mark Hemphill and School Captains Edmund Sze and Kaitlyn Buffon, Professor Simmons spoke to some 400 secondary students, providing insights into the world of quantum computing.
Students were engaged by the Professor’s detailed explanation of how she and her team manipulated individual atoms to make atomically precise electronic devices. Professor Simmons also shared with students some reflection on her schooling days and how these shaped her outlook on life and her path to becoming a pioneering leader in her field.
On the topic of making choices and decisions in life, Professor Simmons emphasised the importance being self-motivated and that the “opportunities you have are those you make for yourself”.
On challenging the status quo, the Professor reminded students that “the hardest things are the ones that give the greatest reward. Choose the skills to match the things that you love and opportunities will keep opening up.
If you pick up the skills, really, your options are quite limitless.”
Students were thrilled to have a photo opportunity with the professor who generously made time to speak with students and staff and answered a range of questions. Gordon Chen of Year 10E is participating in a competition regarding Quantum computing which requires him to provide a speech and video. Gordon spoke to Professor Simmons for a little critique of his preparation.
In his closing remarks and vote of thanks to Professor Simmons, Head of School Mark Hemphill emphasised to students how fortunate the school was to welcome Professor Simmons who was challenged boundaries, pushed through technical barriers and followed her passion to become a role model for all young people, for researchers, for women, in Australia and on a global scale.