Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Kevin Shen and I am a former student in the Bachelor of Science Program in Maths & Physics double major. I am German but I grew up in Shanghai, China. I studied the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in Shanghai before coming to l’X. After finishing my studies at l’X this year, 2020, I moved to Munich, Germany where I have started my studies in the Quantum Science & Technology Master’s Program, jointly hosted by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU).
Could you please tell us more about what you’re currently studying?
This master’s program is divided into a 1-year study phase and a 1-year research phase. During the study phase, everyone has to take two mandatory courses, Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Hardware, which cover the most important knowledge of quantum science and technology. We are then given the freedom to choose from a broad range of courses offered by the two universities. Some of us will specialize as theorists in fields such as quantum information theory and quantum field theory. Others, including me, will specialize in various quantum technologies such as quantum computing, quantum sensing and quantum simulation.
For general information of the program and the institutions, please refer to this program website: https://www.ph.tum.de/academics/msc/qst/qst/
What made you choose your current university/program?
Munich is my hometown and I enjoy living in Munich, so it wasn’t difficult for me to decide where to study. However, it took me a bit long to choose the program. I applied and received offers from five different master’s programs of TUM. I was mainly hesitating between medical physics and quantum science and technology. In the end, I chose the latter for several causes.
First, I really enjoyed studying quantum mechanics during my bachelor’s studies and the background knowledge and skills I possess fit this field more. The second cause is that this program is offered for the first time, just like the Bachelor of Science Program three years ago, and I love being pioneers, taking paths that no one has taken before.
What skills/knowledge gained during the Bachelor of Science have you been using in your current program?
As I am specializing in the applied quantum science, the mathematics I learned at l’X is far more than enough for my current studies. The physics courses offered by the Bachelor of Science are also comparable to those of the Bachelor of Physics at TUM. Hence, I have sufficient background knowledge for my current program. I have been using frequently, for example, linear algebra, analysis, and quantum mechanics of course. Another thing I appreciate is that we learned Python during the first year of Bachelor of Science. Now for my studies I need to code in Python, using the Qiskit SDK to implement quantum algorithms.
When you entered the Bachelor of Science, did you already know what you wanted to do after the program?
When I entered the Bachelor of Science, I had only decided to take the physics track. Besides that, I didn’t really have a clear goal for the future. Actually, I didn’t worry much about the future. After studying for three years, experiencing different things and talking with different people, one will gradually know what he/she wants.
What memories do you have of your time spent at l'X and in the Bachelor program?
Apart from being too far from the city center, my life at l’X was quite comfortable. Good accommodation, cheap but good food from Magnan, various sport facilities… I have also made some good friends coming from different counties. I had my best memories from the trip together with my classmates and coaches to The Pyrénéés.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I will specialize in one quantum technology, most likely superconducting quantum computer. After the Master’s programs, I will probably continue to pursue a PhD degree at TUM or elsewhere and then work as a quantum engineer either in industry or at a research institute.
Any advice to current Bachelor students when deciding about the pursuit of their studies?
When you have difficulties to decide, try to consult others. I have consulted Bachelor Program officers, professors and people at the career center and all of them are eager to help. Also, I would like to point out that what you studied and experienced in the past do not necessarily constrain your choices. With the skills and knowledge that you gained from the Bachelor program, you can continue with theoretical sciences, do industrial research and development, or do business and many other things. So, stay open-minded and relax!