Highlights

CQT hosts QCamp for curious young minds

Thirty-six pre-university students attended the five-day outreach camp on quantum technologies
23 June 2022

A group photo of the QCamp 2022 student participants together with some of the camp’s organisers, lecturers, and tutors.

 

From 6 to 10 June, CQT hosted 36 students for QCamp, our summer school on quantum physics and quantum technologies. It made a lively start to the month.

The students, aged 16 to 19, were selected for QCamp’s limited spots from over 60 applicants. They came from 13 different schools in Singapore.

“We were hoping for students with various backgrounds who are driven, share a vivid curiosity about the world, enjoy connecting with others and who approach quantum physics from many different – sometimes uncommon – angles,” says CQT PhD student Angelina Frank, chair of the organising committee in 2022. “This is exactly what we found in the crowd of students that attended QCamp in 2022. They were wonderful!”

The students enjoyed the experience too. In a survey at the end of the week, all respondents said the camp helped to develop their interest in the field and they would recommend the camp to their fellow students. One called it “the highlight of my June holidays”, and another said “it was astronomical for a topic that speaks about qubits”.

CQT first started holding an annual outreach camp for pre-university students in 2015, but this year’s camp was the first in-person edition since 2019. QCamp was cancelled in 2020 and held online in 2021 because of COVID-19.

During QCamp 2022, the students attended lectures and tutorials which delved into topics outside their school syllabus such as cryptography, Schrödinger’s equation, quantum computing, entanglement and the history of quantum physics.

In a cryptography activity at CQT, students worked in small groups to try their hands at experimental quantum key distribution. They explored differences in security between keys transmitted through classical and quantum channels.

For one day of special activities, the group was split into two to rotate between a hands-on exploration of quantum key distribution (QKD) and a field trip to the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

At IMRE, they visited research facilities including labs and a clean room and learned from scientists about applications of quantum physics. A*STAR is Singapore’s lead public sector R&D agency and bridges the gap between academia and industry.

A*STAR scientist Ivan Verzhbitskiy gave visiting QCamp students an introduction to the clean room at IMRE. The students also visited labs that included a quantum imaging set up and a scanning tunnelling microscope used to measure quantum computing chips.

A new feature of this year’s QCamp was discussion groups on four topics: career (un)planning; work-life balancing; quantum philosophy; and quantum physics in popular culture and mass media. Students signed up for topics they were interested in and participated in small group discussions with their fellow students and CQT facilitators.

In the post-camp survey, the students commented that they “received some great insights” and appreciated the opportunity to access the experience and knowledge of university students and professors. They also gave suggestions on how the programme could be improved, from providing reading material to having more time and being in smaller groups.

PhD student Clara Fontaine says, “The discussion groups were designed to be a space where students and CQTians alike could share their authentic selves in dialogues about personal interests and values, career, philosophy, and culture. Each individual was asked to be brave and reflect on their experiences, share their perspectives, and meaningfully respond and connect with others. We hope this new opportunity this year enabled the students to explore facets of the life of a contributor to quantum technologies that go beyond the technical.”

Plans for this year’s programme were masterminded by the QCamp organising committee, chaired by Angelina and with CQT PhD student members Clive Aw, Clara, Zaw Lin Htoo, Mark Myers, Peter Sidaja and Arthur Strauss. The committee organised the camp with support from CQT’s researchers, students and staff.

More information about QCamp as well as announcements about future editions can be found at qcamp.quantumlah.org.