A pan-Canadian quantum programming training is born
Quantum computing’s recent developments and the desire to push the frontiers of science are inspiring a new generation of students to take up quantum programming.
This is what inspired the CREATE program, QSciTech and Quantum BC to team up to offer the first pan-Canadian virtual workshop in quantum programming. Jointly organized with Intitut quantique of the Université de Sherbrooke, the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute of the University of British Columbia (UBC), and CMC Microsystems, the workshop series is an opportunity to consolidate efforts between different Canadian quantum poles and introduce the basics of quantum computing.
Collaborating to provide a unique training event
The online workshop series, which took place over six days between January and February 2021, attracted 26 people from seven universities across Canada. The event’s program included team sessions, which focused on learning quantum algorithms and their applications, particularly for quantum materials and chemistry.
Participants learned the basic tools of quantum programming, which allowed them to develop a code in Python to represent the state of a molecule using qubits on a quantum computer. The translation between a molecule and qubit allowed participants to calculate the energy of a molecule using IBM’s quantum systems. At the end of the workshop series, the teams presented how their solutions were able to find the ground state of the H2 molecule.
“The simulation of molecules exploiting quantum computer programming is a subject of current scientific interest for which it is important to train the next generation of researchers by giving them state-of-the-art tools to tackle complex problems of interest to society such as the development of molecules for new therapeutic drugs,” explains Prof. Yves Bérubé-Lauzière, director of the QSciTech CREATE program and professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Université de Sherbrooke.
“This workshop was not only a success for the students, it demonstrated the commitment and strength of the relationship between British Columbia and Québec to jointly develop Canadian quantum computing expertise” explains Pedro Lopes of the Stewart Blusson Quantum Institute.
The original content development required several months of preparation to offer a unique experience. The length of the workshop series allowed students to take the time to learn new skills, work in teams on solutions and present their results.
“Everyone worked really hard but it was worth it. On the last day of the workshop series, teams were able to explain their solutions in great detail and some had already started to explore new research avenues. All this in less than 3 weeks – it was really impressive,” says Maxime Dion, a quantum computing developer with the IBM Q Hub at Institut quantique and one of the key persons responsible for the scientific content of the workshops.
Making it worthwhile
The organizers’ efforts did not go unnoticed by some of the participants who were taking their first steps in quantum programming:
“I’ve never seen so much useful content to work with during a workshop – what a pleasant surprise! ” – Ludmila, participant of the CREATE 2021 workshop in quantum programming
“I must admit that the workshops greatly exceeded my expectations. It’s obvious that a huge amount of work was put into them.” – Marc-Antoine, CREATE 2021 quantum programming workshop participant
With the quantum economy rapidly expanding and the need for a qualified workforce continues to grow, the interest shown by the students during the workshops underlines the importance of offering innovative trainings that open up new employment opportunities.
Following this successful first edition, the organizers are already planning a workshop on superconducting circuit design by the end of 2021 and the possibility of exploring other topics related to quantum programming.