Many technology companies are taking advantage of the increasing interest and funding in developing quantum computing products. One of these companies is Riverlane, which focuses on developing user-friendly quantum computing software. As of August 2021, Riverlane was awarded its first contract to supply the UK’s National Quantum Computing Center (NQCC) with quantum computing software. Unlike other quantum computing companies, Riverlane collaborates with all stakeholders to develop a polished product, from enterprising customers to quantum hardware companies.
Quantum computing, for those who may not be familiar, works very differently than classical computing. Instead of traditional “bits” that store data, usually in the form of binary code, quantum computers utilize “qubits.” Qubits are different from “bits,” being able to store more data and solve difficult problems much faster. However, qubits can be particular about their environments, which is why quantum computers have to be kept in freezing cold temperatures. Because of their fragility, qubits often can become error-prone. Error correction is currently an ongoing endeavor for quantum research, and Riverlane is investing time and energy into this process.
One of the hardworking employees at Riverlane is Rojalin Mishra, the Senior Hardware Verification Engineer. Mishra has had years of experience verifying complicated engineering for Systems-on-a-Chip and for Integrated Circuits. Mishra finds her work to be invaluable as her verification: “will allow physicists to write scalable software blocks to control every aspect of their experiment… I study the design specification and extract the requirements and create a verification plan document, which defines what features are to be verified…” Without proper verification from a senior position, the development of this innovating quantum technology cannot proceed.
Like many engineers, Mishra’s path into quantum computing was not linear. “Once, I read an article that quantum computers have the potential to bridge the gap between how computers manipulate the data and how humans do the same,” she explained. “That kind of got me interested in quantum technology. Quantum technology was more of a research topic, and I am an engineer. I never really imagined I would be working in the quantum field.” After becoming interested in this new technology, Mishra realized that the growth of the quantum technology sector could land her a job. “The rapid growth in the quantum sector over the past years has enabled many opportunities. I consider myself lucky to get a chance to work on something so exciting that could change the future dramatically.” Mishra’s expertise in engineering parallels the general trend of many quantum technology companies hiring engineers as opposed to physics students to fill in a workforce.
Being part of this workforce, Mishra has seen a lack of diversity. “The work culture is male-dominated in its makeup,” she said. “The way women work is different. It’s hard for women to try and fit into the existing work culture and excel.” However, Mishra is optimistic about increasing diversity in the quantum workforce: “Thankfully, a great number of organizations are working toward bringing balance. With growing diversity in the top positions, the culture is changing for the better.”
But Mishra also believes that it is not just the quantum industry, but society as a whole, that needs to pitch in. “As a society, we need to do our bit to make women feel more included and comfortable in the work environment…We should prioritize work-life balance for both men and women. In that way, men get to share domestic responsibility, which will help women better balance their work.” Mishra wants to inspire the next generation, who will be making up the incoming quantum workforce. “The next responsibility is to pass the message to the young women. It has been accepted that working in science and technology is hard for women. It certainly was, but it’s charging and it’s going to get better.” Mishra is optimistic about future diversity in the quantum industry and leads by example using her own position at Riverlane to inspire others.
“About.” Riverlane. Accessed September 14, 2021.
Flower, Amy. “Riverlane Awarded the First Contract to Supply Quantum Software to the UK’s National Quantum Computing Centre.” Riverlane, August 11, 2021.
Photo Courtesy of Riverlane