Students from across 15 Canadian universities came together this month at Xanadu’s Canadian Quantum Cup to showcase their quantum programming skills.

Each participating university nominated a team of up to four students to represent them at this national coding competition, working on up to six PennyLane coding challenges of increasing complexity.

Image (left to right): Ritu Thombre, Abhishek Abhishek, Marcus Edwards from the UBC team.

Combining teamwork, expertise and quantum programming skills, British Columbia was represented by two teams from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and University of Victoria (UVic). Of the 15 teams, the University of Victoria team came in second place, followed by the UBC team that came third.

UBC student Marcus Edwards, who participated in the competition as part of 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.”

Members of both BC teams are 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.”

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 Canadian 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.”

Members of the UBC team included Marcus Edwards, Ritu Thombre, and Abhishek Abhishek. Members of the UVic team included Jose Ossorio, Prashanti Priya Angara, Mohammad Kashfi Haghighi, and Sajed Karimy.

A version of this article first appeared on Quantum BC’s website here.