The Centre for Quantum Technologies has employed hundreds of scientists and trained tens of PhD students since it was established. Our former colleagues have since taken their skills into a variety of new roles. Many of our alumni continue in academic research, but others work across a wide range of industries. CQT alumni are found in banking, consulting, and in technical jobs, including data science and engineering.
The charts give an overview of the next jobs for recent CQT alumni, summarising responses from 91 staff and students who left CQT in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Bridging academic research and industry with quantum know-how
Jirawat Tangpanitanon, Chief Executive Officer, Quantum Technology Foundation (Thailand) (QTFT)
As a PhD student, and subsequently Research Fellow, in the group of CQT’s Dimitris Angelakis, Jirawat Tangpanitanon had a chance to work with various companies both in Thailand and Singapore, including the quantum AI team at Google. The experience inspired him to notice the gap between academia and industry. After leaving CQT in September 2020, he co-founded the startup QTFT to address this gap.
Based in Jirawat’s home country Thailand, QTFT is a consulting agency for quantum technologies, currently serving clients from logistics, aviation and finance industries. The team works with academics to produce research to suit the needs of industry, and with businesses planning to leverage on quantum computing. As Chief Executive Officer, Jirawat engages with many corporate clients looking for ideas to add business value to their companies. “It is a completely different scenario from when I was a scientist exploring new knowledge,” he says. To bring them suggestions, he draws on the deep knowledge of quantum computing he gained in his time at CQT and the connections he built with international researchers.
Highly specialised skills for building quantum hardware
Francesca Tosto, Quantum Engineer, IQM
CQT PhD graduate Francesca Tosto earned her PhD for “On-demand Atomtronic Architectures on a Superconducting Atom Chip” in the group of Rainer Dumke in 2020. She was then hired to be a quantum engineer at IQM, a quantum computing hardware startup. The company is based in Helsinki, Finland, and has about 70 employees at its headquarters. Its goal is to deliver full-stack superconducting quantum computers to research laboratories, supercomputing centres and industrial customers.
On a usual day, Francesca works on the calibration and benchmarking of IQM’s processors. She enjoys working closely with diverse people who have highly specialised skills. Francesca credits the training she received during her PhD for laying the foundations for her new role, even if the technology is a little different. “I learnt the methodology of working in the lab, from setting up an experiment, measuring and characterising it, to identifying and fixing issues that occur,” she says.
Adding to quantum expertise at Microsoft
Aarthi Sundaram, Postdoctoral Researcher, Microsoft
Aarthi Sundaram completed her PhD in computer science at CQT in 2017, supervised by Miklos Santha. Her research involved work on quantum algorithms and the mathematical complexity of problems. Now, she is a postdoctoral researcher in the Quantum Systems team at Microsoft, where her main focus is to analyse both the powers and limitations of quantum computing. “It is definitely a big bonus that I can continue working in an area I truly enjoy exploring,” Aarthi says. While the problems she is working on now may be different, the research skills and knowledge she picked up during her PhD studies influences her work to this day. Aarthi is also enjoying the opportunity to broaden her research interests and understanding. She says, “Working in a company that aims to deliver the full stack of quantum services, there is a chance to interact and learn from people with vastly different expertise.”
Exploring space frontiers for quantum technology
Aitor Villar Zafra, Quantum Engineer, SpeQtral
Originally from Spain, Aitor Villar Zafra moved to Singapore in 2014 for an internship at CQT, then joined the Centre’s PhD programme. Aitor earned his undergraduate and master’s degree in telecommunications engineering, converting his skills to quantum communication during his research project in the group of Alexander Ling. He earned his PhD for “Building Entangled Photon Pair Sources for Quantum Key Distribution with Nano-Satellites”. Aitor continues this work as a Quantum Engineer for the CQT spin-off company SpeQtral. The company is developing space-based quantum networks for global delivery of secure encryption keys. Aitor chose to stay in Singapore, seeking the worklife balance the country offers: “here I can focus on my career without neglecting family plans in the future”.
Supporting the semiconductor industry
Debashis De Munshi, Systems Engineer, KLA Tencor
Debashis did his PhD in the experimental laboratory of CQT’s Manas Mukherjee, building and running experiments on trapped barium ions. He then worked briefly as a postdoc in the Centre before accepting a job with KLA Tencor, a multinational company that develops inspection and metrology technologies for the semiconductor and nanoelectronics industries. He joined KLA Tencor’s Singapore facility in September 2017 as Systems Engineer (manufacturing). “The machines we build are extremely complex,” Debashis says. “My job is to troubleshoot issues during manufacturing and to suggest and perform design changes.” His leaning towards industry was apparent even earlier, as he filed a patent application and developed ideas for businesses during his PhD. Now, he relishes the chance to embrace the challenges of commercial technological developments. In 2019, he moved to the company’s San Francisco location.
From quantum experiments to Apple hardware
Nick Lewty, Hardware Engineer, Apple
CQT PhD graduate Nick is now a Hardware Engineer for Apple in Singapore, developing devices to go into the company’s products. “The CQT PhD gives graduates the skillsets they need to compete in industry at a high level,” says Nick. He was hired by Apple in 2016 after an intense interviewing process. Nick completed his PhD in one of CQT’s ion-trapping groups in 2014. He then worked at CQT as a postdoc in quantum optics, before looking for jobs in optical engineering in industry. He found the Apple position through an advert online. At CQT Nick was involved in designing, building and programming complicated setups for precision measurements. “I use a lot of what I learnt in the lab. It’s not exactly the same tools, but the lab skills,” he says. This includes doing a lot of programming for the equipment they use. Nick can’t say what he works on for Apple. What he can say is “I am really enjoying it.”
An easy move into data science
Paul Condylis, Head of Data Science, Tokopedia Singapore
Paul Condylis was a Research Fellow in experimental groups in CQT for over six years before shifting his career into the commercial world as a data scientist. He is now Head of Data Science in Singapore for the Indonesian tech company Tokopedia. Before taking this role in 2020, he worked for the Singapore-based fintech company Jewel Paymentech. As Lead Research Scientist , his role involved developing deep learning and machine learning models to understand text documents, classify images, and identify fraudulent transactions. “Moving from experimental physics into data science and AI was easy due to the skills I acquired as a researcher,” Paul says, “The grounding of a physics education gives you the ability to read and understand the current literature in AI, and then apply those techniques.”
Start-up co-founder and applied problem solver
Sambit Pal, Chief Technology Officer, mVizn
Sambit graduated from CQT’s PhD programme in 2017 and is now the Chief Technology Officer of mVizn, a company he co-founded. The company combines artificial intelligence with machine vision to support business processes. For example, its first major contract was with PSA Corporation (formerly Port of Singapore Authority) to deploy automated safety supervision systems on cranes and heavy machinery that move shipping containers. During his PhD, Sambit would play with business ideas in his free time and mVizn grew out of his entrepreneurial experiments. “After the first couple of years of my PhD, I knew I wanted to go into something where I could apply the knowledge I had been picking up,” says Sambit. Sambit’s PhD was in the experimental group of Kai Dieckmann on “Molecular Spectroscopy of Ultracold 6-lithuem and 40-potassium molecules: Towards STIRAP Transfer to Absolute Grand State”.
PhD earns chance of more interesting work
See Tian Feng, Senior Engineer, Micron
CQT PhD graduate See Tian Feng was recruited by Micron in Singapore after meeting a hiring manager at a university careers fair. She joined the multinational memory and storage company in June 2019. Tian Feng completed her PhD supervised by Dimitris Angelakis on “Few-Photon Transport In Strongly Interacting Light-Matter Systems: A Scattering Approach”. These days she is involved in the manufacturing of memory chips. She analyses data from tests of NAND flash memory at intermediate production stages, checking performance before the product goes to the next step. Having a PhD is useful, she says: “People expect you to do more challenging tasks. From the onset, you are given the chance to do more interesting work because you hold the degree.”
Developing technology for oil and gas companies
Wilson Chin Yue Sum, Physicist, Schlumberger
After completing his PhD in quantum optics in 2018, Wilson Chin looked for a job outside academia. Another CQT alumnus working at Schlumberger, a provider of technology to the oil and gas industry, introduced Wilson to the company. Wilson is employed as a physicist in the Singapore Well Testing Center developing a multiphase flowmeter based on Gamma spectroscopy. He enjoys the opportunity to apply physics to commercial technology. “I appreciate the company’s capability as the technology lead in its field,” Wilson says. “The PhD training as a physicist has shaped my problem solving approach and perspective, which is perhaps the key differentiator in my new role.” Wilson completed his PhD supervised by Christian Kurtsiefer on “Light-atom coupling with 4PI Microscopy”.