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UVic Students Excel at Canadian Quantum Cup

November 28, 2023

 The Canadian Quantum Cup (CQC), organized by Xanadu, took place on November 7-10, 2023. Students from 15 Canadian universities across Canada gathered to showcase their quantum programming skills in a coding competition.

Each participating university nominated a team of up to 4 students to represent them on a national platform, working on up to 6 PennyLane coding challenges of increasing complexity over a 3-round system.

Combining teamwork, experience, and quantum programming, British Columbia represented with two teams from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the University of Victoria (UVic). Of the 15 teams, the team from UVic came in second place, and the team from UBC came in third.

All the members of the B.C. teams are also scholars in the NSERC CREATE in Quantum Computing program. Led by UBC’s Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute (Blusson QMI) in collaboration with UVic and Simon Fraser University, the NSERC CREATE in Quantum Computing program provides students with highly specialized technical expertise and commercial skills in both quantum computing hardware and software.

When asked how the program has prepared her for this sort of challenge, Priya Angara from UVic said: “As part of the CREATE program, we need to take courses in quantum computing, like an introduction to quantum computing, and an introduction to quantum algorithms. These and other courses helped quite a bit with understanding the challenges and definitely solving them faster, because having some background on what the challenges asked us to do was really helpful.”

Marcus Edwards from the UBC team said: “The experience of taking part in the competition was really fun. We had a great team, and we all enjoyed working together. We naturally split up the tasks and got to work.”

Faculty were an integral part of this event, as the university teams could only be nominated to participate in the competition by a faculty member.

Dr. Olivia Di Matteo, Assistant Professor at UBC’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, sees great value in students taking part in industry events like Xanadu’s Quantum Cup.

“These kinds of events are an ideal setting for students to put their theoretical knowledge and problem-solving skills to the test. They gain practical experience with the software tools used by researchers across industry and academia in a competitive, but friendly environment. Plus, it's an opportunity to make connections with industry scientists and like-minded students across the country.”

Dr. Ulrike Stege, Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Director of Master of Engineering in Applied Data Science, was one of two faculty at UVic responsible for bringing the UVic team together.

“Participation in events like Xanadu’s Quantum Cup helps with building student confidence, and aligns their skill sets with the ones needed in industry. Successful participation in such events is not just great for the student portfolios but also for their resumes. Students learn how to work effectively in teams in a professional environment with professional tools, and in UVic's case with fellow CREATE students from other research groups. The competitive nature of such competitions motivates students to push their limits and strive for excellence. It also gives them a break from regular activities in a fun way, while learning a lot and improving their skills.”

Members of the UVic Team: Jose Ossorio, Prashanti Priya Angara, Mohammad Kashfi Haghighi, and Sajed Karimy

Members of the UBC Team: Marcus Edwards, Ritu Thombre, and Abhishek Abhishek

How would you have fared at the Canadian Quantum Cup? The CQC Challenges are now available on the PennyLane Challenge platform:

This article was written by Shahrzad Abbasi and an initial version was originally published here on the Quantum BC website.