Luxembourg aiming to plug IT gap with supercomputer degree
The University of Luxembourg is to offer its first master’s degree in high performance computing, as the country aims to plug gaps in its IT sector, which has struggled with staff shortages and stands at just a fraction of the size of its financial industry despite growing job opportunities.
The €7 million degree programme is part of an EU plan to upgrade the bloc’s supercomputing capacity. It is being developed under the EuroHPC scheme, which was established by the EU in 2018 and involves 29 European countries pooling their resources to make the bloc a world leader in supercomputing after years of lagging way behind the likes of the US and China.
The university, located in Esch-sur-Alzette in the south of the country, will lead a consortium of European universities, private enterprises and research centres to develop the first master’s curriculum, which is due to open for study in autumn 2022, UL said in a statement.
Despite a drive by the government to make Luxembourg more digital friendly, and a push by the EU to locate part of its supercomputer network in the country, the Grand Duchy has not yet developed into an IT hub.
The tech sector remains much smaller than the country's dominant finance industry, which contributes to around a third of the Grand Duchy's GDP, according to figures released by the European Banking Federation's earlier this year.
Demand for employees in the IT and technology sectors in Luxembourg could see nearly 1,000 job opportunities created over the next two years, industry lobby group FEDIL said in March. The predicted expansion comes from an “explosion” of new technologies such as blockchain and high-performance computing, according to FEDIL, as well as start-ups working in the technology field.
Tuesday's announcement by the University of Luxembourg follows the European Commission's decision in 2019 that Bissen in Luxembourg would become home to one of the first European 'supercomputers' out of eight sites selected across the EU. The 'supercomputer' can be deployed in a wide range of areas such as predicting weather patterns or designing new medicines.
Luxembourg was also chosen as the headquarters for the legal and financial structure which is overseeing the creation of the European supercomputer network.
The European Union is heavily reliant on computing resources outside its borders, consuming 30% of the worldwide capacity, while only supplying 5%, according to the European Commission.
Anders Dam Jensen, Executive Director of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, said: “Thanks to this Master’s programme, we will train the next generation of HPC experts in Europe.”