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Shengru Ren’s Unexpected Career in Quantum Computing

Shengru Ren credits her background in engineering for steering her to develop her pragmatic side, but her outspoken personality is all her own. Never shying away from addressing things she does not agree with, Shengru’s willingness to bring her unique perspective to the table has been one of her most valuable attributes at 1QBit, where she works in the position of Lead, Research in the Hardware Innovation Lab. Her pragmatic approach ensures that she can set realistic goals and create products that work as intended. She prides herself on the solid work she has accomplished so far, and continues to work methodically and strategically toward products that have practical applications in quantum computing. Based on the quality of her work, it is surprising that she never intended to end up in this field. We asked Shengru how she got started at 1QBit, as well as what she is currently working on.

How did you end up at 1QBit?

By pure happenstance and luck, I was invited to a networking event. Expecting exactly nothing, since my then-experience matched exactly zero percent of the industry covered by this networking event, I attended the event, left a copy of my resume, had a good time, and promptly forgot about the whole thing once I got home.
“I think that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we will have small-scale and functional quantum computers which are deployed to solve otherwise intractable problems.” —Shengru Ren
You can imagine my surprise when I was contacted for a follow-up conversation with 1QBit a short while later. Who would have thought that my self-assessed-as-irrelevant resume turned out to be very relevant to what 1QBit needed at that time? At first, I was intrigued but quite frankly skeptical at the same time. What is this “quantum computing” business all about? Is that even a thing? But then, curiosity got the upper hand and I began digging around for information to learn more about the company and their work, as well as going through the recruiting process. During this process, I met several members of the company. It was then that I was convinced and decided to jump on the wagon. I haven’t looked back once since.

What are you currently working on?

At the moment, I’m developing tools for compiling quantum circuits to executable gates for target hardware.

What excites you about your work?

It’s quite unique and interesting, as well as mentally challenging and engaging. Each piece of the work is different—there’s no repetition.
 
Shengru Ren and Fred Park of 1QBit

Shengru and fellow 1QBit coworker Fred Park

 

What kind of response has your research received?

Externally, there has been some interest in adopting my work to solve specific problems. But, as we are still in the infancy of quantum computing, my work isn’t directly applicable to most real-world problems just yet. However, it certainly paves the way for getting there.

What are the next steps for this work?

Adding more features! There are many aspects to the compiling problem. We have only been addressing a very well-defined subset of problems, but as we expand our knowledge, we also want to expand the features of our tools to support the growing needs of quantum computer designers.

What is the future of quantum computing?

What a trillion-dollar question! Decades from now, we’ll look back and laugh at ourselves for our primitive attempts. But, I have faith. I think that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we will have small-scale and functional quantum computers which are deployed to solve otherwise intractable problems. Perhaps one could use them to find a cure for cancer.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Shengru!

To learn more about other projects from the 1QBit team, and to view our research and white papers and more, visit the page on Our Thinking.

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