Scholarship Experiences – Isidora Araya Day
I’ve always been very curious. That is what got me to study Physics.
In the second year of my Bachelor’s, I read a book by Seth Lloyd that made me interested in quantum computing, so I started to look more into this topic and found a quantum cryptography course by Stephanie Wehner on edX. It was my first interaction with Delft. I’m not sure whether I finished the course, but it did give me an idea of what people were working on and what I could learn if I would join the community here.
At this stage, I was intrigued and I wanted to understand what quantum computing was all about. In Chile, where I grew up, I couldn’t find any summer schools on the topic, but after searching online I found a promising one in Canada. While I was there, I heard so many positive stories about Delft University of Technology: many of the people running the summer school had been in Delft as PhD candidates or postdocs at some point in their careers.
Later, after my graduation, I had some spare time before I could start on a master’s degree, so I contacted QuTech for an internship. Unfortunately, none were available at the time, but they did inform me about the QuTech Scholarship. I took the chance and applied. Well, here I am now and it’s a really nice place to be.
One of the things I particularly like about QuTech is that the researchers are collaborating a lot. People who do theory team up with people who do experiments. Things are connected, and so are the people. Moreover, the broad spectrum of topics researched at QuTech is fantastic. I already knew I don’t want to focus only on quantum computing research for the rest of my career, but I do want to finish my master’s understanding how scientists make their choices. For instance why they would use one system and not another. I want to be able to understand research papers. And with this scholarship, I’m getting there.
I had not expected to be reading so many scientific papers. I was used to learning from books, but here we just read a lot of papers, often written by our professors. That’s an amazing approach that also emphasises the value of the QuTech Academy courses: it simply is not possible to learn the same from books. We’re reading about the latest research, see the newest techniques and we study knowledge that was not known last year. The book simply hasn’t been written yet.
Reading scientific papers about the latest research in quantum can be challenging at times. Often you don’t understand them immediately, but in the long run, you build up experience and deepen your knowledge. This approach teaches us how to continue learning on our own as well. That is a tremendous life skill to have.