Employee Spotlight: Katy Barnes, Principal Hardware Engineer

January 28, 2022

We sat down with Katy Barnes to talk about her career path to quantum and why she enjoys working in this field and at Atom Computing on the Control Systems Engineering team.

Why did you decide to get into quantum computing - what is your obsession with this field?

Katy: Honestly, I didn't really set out to work in quantum computing. The biggest draw for me to Engineering, in general, was that the field is always changing and I'd be forever learning. My dream was that I would have the opportunity to be part of a team that was working on world-changing, cutting-edge technology, and quantum computing is the epitome of both. I count myself fortunate to be a part of Atom Computing and I'm very excited to see what we can create together!

What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned since working in this field?

Katy: The Physics behind quantum computing is fascinating; so is pondering the ways it will transform any industry it touches. Before joining Atom Computing, I envisioned Quantum Physics as this weird science that challenged the Physics principles we are comfortable with. Many of us have heard of Schrödinger's cat, but truly wrapping your mind around the idea of uncertainty and how it can be used as a computing tool is incredibly difficult. It’s not something I studied in depth in school (and I still think it’s weird), but the more I learn about how it works, the more enthralled I am.

Thinking about how classical computing changed over the years makes me very excited to see how the quantum computing industry will grow and change.  

What gets you excited about how quantum computing could change the world? What is a problem you are passionate about that quantum computing may help solve-for in the future?

Katy: I believe that quantum computing has the potential to transform almost everything in this world. I am most excited about how it could change the healthcare industry. I cannot even fathom what new treatments or cures could be created to battle the sickness and disease that plague today’s society. I’m sure there are many ways we haven’t even thought of that quantum computing could help to diagnose and treat various medical issues. 


Tell us why you chose to work at Atom Computing?

Katy: One of the major things that drove me to work for Atom Computing, in particular, is that “humble” was one of the requirements in the job description. That one word says to me that not only will I be working with brilliant people on very cool, very cutting edge technology, but I will be working with a team that doesn’t let egos get in the way of progress—that we all will have the same goal.  And now that I have worked with the team, I know that it’s true!

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone in high school or college considering getting into this field?

Katy: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t understand something, keep asking questions until you do understand. In the STEM field, each new topic tends to build on something else you’ve learned, so it’s easy to get lost. Make sure you don’t just memorize, but understand the why and how—it makes it easier to apply the concepts to real-world problems. It can be intimidating to be in a room full of smart people who all seem to get it, but I can guarantee that there are several people in the room that would be happy that you asked that question. Never stop learning!

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