Published: May 6, 2024 By

Quantum Scholars hosted an end of year celebration in late April, marking an end to the second year of this highly successful and innovative program. Over 50 students participated in Quantum Scholars this year, with just over half receiving fellowships. 

Dr. William Clark speaks to the Quantum Scholars students

The event featured a distinguished speaker from the quantum industry, an award ceremony for the Quantum Scholars Hackathon, and remarks from program advisors and professors Mike Ritzwoller and Noah Finkelstein. Tobin Munsat, professor and chair of physics, concluded the evening with closing remarks congratulating the scholars on a successful year. 

The end of year celebration featured Dr. William Clark, Vice President for Quantum Development at Infleqtion, as a distinguished guest. An alumnus of CU Boulder, Dr. Clark completed his doctorate in physics in 1998, specializing in atomic, molecular and optical physics. Dr. Clark’s talk focused on the current state of the quantum industry. He also highlighted the capabilities and scope of Infleqtion, which has an increasingly global presence in the industry.  

“It warms my heart to see so many talented students engaged as Quantum Scholars,” said Clark. “They are a great example of what the state of Colorado, and the University of Colorado at Boulder are doing to advance the Quantum Industry.” 

A student-driven program 

Student engagement plays a large role in the program, with students helping to shape the program’s future. “We’re so proud of the Quantum Scholars program, with both the practical experiences and financial support that it has provided to the students,” Munsat said. “And of course, the student scholars themselves have been so impressive, really making the whole program work."

Xun Gao presents at the Quantum Scholars hackathon award ceremony“The students in the Quantum Scholars program are strongly engaged in learning about the quantum field and industry,” said Ritzwoller. “The second year of the program witnessed considerable growth in student interest and participation as well as moving the program into new avenues to support student learning, such as the Quantum Hackathon.”

Over 25 students participated in the Quantum Hackathon this year. Educational materials about quantum computing and the final challenge problems were created by Professors Xun Gao and Oliver DeWolfe. The hackathon took place over four weeks with students grouped into teams of three or four and led by a graduate student advisor. The gold medal was awarded to the team led by physics graduate student Margie Bruff. Two teams were awarded silver medals and five teams received bronze medals.

“Congratulations to all the Quantum Hackathon medal winners,” said Gao. “I hope this hackathon helped students better understand quantum computing, its connection to practical problems, and inspired them to pursue it further.” 

Coordinated activities and continued growth 

Over the course of the year, Quantum Scholars participants engaged in activities designed to help them learn about the quantum field and industry. Students participated in the Physics and Quantum Career Fair, where they communicated with 26 different employers. They heard talks from leading scientists in the field representing companies that include IonQ and Infleqtion. They also toured labs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and KMLabs. 

Graduate student Sasha Novack helps coordinate activities for the program. “It was an absolute pleasure working for the scholars this year,” said Novack. “We had a plethora of speakers, tours and social events (not to mention pizza) which the scholars enjoyed to the fullest.” 

Thanks to generous contributions from industry partners, alumni, and external partners, the Quantum Scholars program is expected to grow in the coming years to provide fellowships for up to 50 students per year.

“We are thrilled with the growth of this program and the achievements of these remarkable students,” said Finkelstein. “With the students' continued involvement and the community’s investment in Quantum Scholars, we know that the future of quantum sciences and engineering are in good hands.” 

Questions about getting involved in the Quantum Scholars Program as a student, industry partner, or supporter can be directed to Professor Mike Ritzwoller