Sarah Kreikemeier, mechanical engineer, was a little surprised when she first read the job listing before applying to work at IonQ.
“When I read the posting, I thought, ‘wait, I could do this for my job?’ Like, this could be my job, to do these cool things," she said. “And so, the first thing that stood out was that the technical challenge every day is like learning something new. It's so deeply technical that you're never bored.”
Sarah was an artist in high school and still enjoys drawing and painting. She thought that she was going to major in art. But a physics class and an influential mentor helped her discover that she could combine her interests in art, physics, and mathematics with a degree in engineering. She got her BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Virginia and is now designing mechanical subsystems from the laser beam delivery systems and internal assemblies that interface with our ion traps all the way out to the system enclosures that provide precise operating environments for our computers.
“Because so much of my role is in the design space, I can make pieces to be very aesthetically pleasing. Of course, the primary design goal is functionality, but there is definitely an artistic element,” she says. “It's very visual, the design work that I do. I get a lot of my creative juices flowing when I'm at work.”
When she first joined IonQ, Sarah knew next to nothing about quantum physics. But she has since become an essential member of the team, leaving her figurative fingerprints all over IonQ Aria, one of our newest generation systems. She also now has her name on a patent – an important milestone for any mechanical engineer.
The patent, which also represents the work of six other inventors at IonQ, describes a means of stabilizing the output of a pulsed laser.
“Receiving a patent grant was one of the most rewarding moments of my career so far, especially after spending so much time on the project and collaborating with a variety of different individuals on the electronics side, deep in the physics realm, and then of course on the mechanical design. It was nice to work together and each contribute our own areas of expertise.”
One of Sarah’s most recent contributions has been her development of IonQ’s next-generation system enclosures. With support from Coleman Collins and Kai Hudek (Product Manager and Senior Physicist, respectively), she figured out how to safely support the systems' complex hardware in a compact, acoustically-isolated and environmentally-stabilized package that also looks cool enough to be next year’s most wanted gaming console.
Support from coworkers has not only enabled Sarah to launch a career in quantum computing – it also makes it fun for her to come to work.
"The company is not made of just one type of person. It's many different types of people with diverse knowledge who come together and deliver something that's really extraordinary. I joined the team with no quantum experience. I think that's something that's exciting for potential new candidates because they don't need to have a background in physics or in quantum to succeed here.”
“I think the collaboration and the camaraderie of the team is something that is so amazing. Everyone's kindness, generosity, and willingness to help others really stands out. I know I've learned an incredible amount and benefited considerably from the mentorship and teachings of my teammates. What we have here is something that's really special.”