In early October, over 25,000 women technologists from over 75 countries gathered in Orlando, Florida to celebrate women in computing. Attendees networked with industry professionals, attended technical talks, and for some — built their first quantum program using Qiskit!
The Qiskit team was especially energized to share quantum computing at GHC since it was the first time in 18 years the event had a track dedicated to quantum computing. To mark this monumental moment, the Qiskit team was on the ground of the career fair hall guiding students and industry professionals on how to program their first quantum program, and held a celebration at the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™.
Our goal was to demystify the field of quantum computing. The first 500 individuals who successfully built a quantum circuit at the IBM booth were awarded a ticket to our celebration. Quantum computing is not magic, but The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ is.
Attendees who visited the IBM booth were given an iPad with a demo of the IBM Quantum Experience: a programmable 3-qubit circuit with three types of quantum gates. After an attendee programmed and ran their circuit, the resulting quantum state determined the AR-enabled selfie filter, allowing users to commemorate their experience building a quantum program. This demo also planted curiosity that shined through the most-often asked questions: What is a qubit? How do quantum circuits work? And what does it mean for a superposition to collapse?
Somya Arora, a 3rd year computer science undergraduate student at Princeton University, shared, “Going through the filter experiment and working with qubits at the IBM booth broke down quantum computing from an abstract and massive concept into sizeable chunks that could easily be understood by anyone. Having not taken higher level physics courses, I had a negligible understanding of how the quantum system and chandelier worked, but the experiment and talking with the Qiskit team made us grasp this concept much more! I definitely was not expecting to walk away from the booth having learned so much about quantum computing!”
The Qiskit team also brought quantum to the GHC sessions. Specifically, Qiskit researchers shared the exciting exploration of near-team applications of quantum computing in a full presentation. And at the hands-on Qiskit workshop, attendees learned to program a quantum computer using Qiskit, IBM’s python-based software development kit.
Reflecting back on the invigorating week, I hope that the attendees of the event all confidently walked away seeing the value of quantum computing, and will become pioneers of this emerging field. While quantum is still in its infancy, there are many ways computer scientists, coders, mathematicians, scientists, and quantum enthusiasts can all contribute to progressing this emerging field. Interested individuals can get involved today by applying to become a Qiskit advocate or interning with us.
We are better together.