Women of Quantum: Elisa Torres Durney of Girls in Quantum

Elisa Torres Durney of Girls in Quantum

Because of its unique complexities and advancements, the quantum computing industry is dealing with a talent shortage. This shortage is also driven by the need for highly educated individuals who have a background in quantum physics, which requires years to do. Many organizations are already at work to expand this talent pool by offering more quantum education programs to younger audiences to try to create pipelines. One organization leading the charge is Girls in Quantum, which plans to create spaces where teenagers and young girls have the tools and community to learn more about quantum computing. Though founded in early 2022, the organization has taken off significantly, as girls from around the world are creating an international community focused on this advanced technology.

Leading this organization is Founder and CEO Elisa Torres Durney, who is 17 years old and based in Chile. Her passion for quantum computing can only be matched by a few other individuals within the industry. “I’m really fond of science and technology,” Torres Durney stated. “The fact that quantum computing combines both of these fascinates me. Also, this technology has a lot to offer, such as quantum chemistry or quantum cryptography. It’s amazing to explore the opportunities out there.”

Torres Durney’s journey into quantum computing began with a search for online courses. She quickly found ones offered by QubitxQubit, a quantum education group that partners with IBM. “Before that, I’d never really heard about quantum computing,” Torres Durney explained, “So, I started looking for more information. I decided to apply to learn with QubitxQubit. I told my mom and she encouraged me.” Torres Durney’s application was accepted by the organization, and she even received a full-ride scholarship. “That was amazing for me,” she added. “It was a two-semester program where I learned about quantum mechanics, quantum physics, and a variety of topics that I had never heard about. It was a very challenging program, but also very interesting.”

Thanks to the QubitxQubit program, Torres Durney made many friends also passionate about quantum technology. Once the program ended in April of 2022, Torres Durney wanted to keep this new community alive. According to her: “I decided that I couldn’t stop my learning journey. So, I decided to start a quantum organization mainly designed to provide free resources for students around the world.” While this may seem like a large project for anyone to take on, let alone a 17-year-old, Torres Durney has had no problem growing the organization. “Currently, there are girls and students from more than 12 countries learning with us through social media and our website,” she explained. “We put all of our resources into posts and try to add many interactive things to make learning a fun process. And in June we participated in The Quantum Latino Event to showcase our project with experts and enthusiasts in the field. So far, we have six main ambassadors from the United States, Egypt, India, Germany, Spain, and Chile. It has been a great community and a good learning experience as well.” With this success, Torres Durney and the rest of the Girls in Quantum team are excited to be hosting several seminars in October.

As a key leader of the incoming quantum talent pool, Torres Durney knows she can help make the industry more inclusive to all. To this end, there are many methods that she has contemplated when looking to boost inclusivity. “Considering education as a start it’s really important to start teaching kids no matter where they are from or how old they are. It’s important that they are involved in science and math and that these fields aren’t gendered,” she explained. “I have heard from some that ‘quantum computing is really difficult, and I’m not sure I want to be involved.’ But many women are already involved in this field, so you can get inspired by them. There is nothing impossible, and I totally encourage you to be involved.”

If you found this text helpful, be sure to check out more quantum computing news!

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Science Communicator at JILA

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