Skip to Content

Darla Moore School of Business

  • Image of state Sen. Dick Harpootlian with Moore School students, faculty and staff, and a TV news crew

    Moore School students meet with state Sen. Dick Harpootlian to celebrate their iQuHack Hackathon success

Quantum computing: the next big thing

State’s commitment to quantum computing already producing a promising return on investment with Moore School students gaining invaluable experience

Moore School undergraduate students who have been partnering with the South Carolina Quantum Association recently returned from Boston’s MIT and the iQuHack Hackathon, where they placed third, showcasing their skills on quantum computers.

“Quantum computers take complex data sets and examine how they interact with one another to produce precise understanding. Through their advanced processes, these computers can potentially revolutionize industries in various scientific studies,” said Jarrett Lane, director of strategic partnerships at the South Carolina Quantum Association.

“The Moore School team’s third place finish is an impressive feat as first-time competitors just learning how to use quantum computer technology,” said Brandon Mendez, assistant finance professor and the student team’s advisor.

The student team includes: 

  • Jordan Fowler, ’24 expected graduation finance and USC computer science
  • Carter Burns, ’24 expected graduation finance
  • Ryan Henry, '25 expected graduation finance
  • Jack Oberman, '24 expected graduation USC mathematics and computer science

The No. 1 team in the hackathon included students from Harvard and Yale, and the No. 2 team consisted of Ph.D. graduates with industry experience.

Many in the Moore School finance department feel the team’s performance at the hackathon provides a toehold for bigger work in quantum computing.

“I’m extremely proud of the Moore School team — the students have been great to work with. We started working on this in the fall and ever since the project came up, it started with the student lead and went from there,” Mendez said.

Representatives from the Moore School and South Carolina Quantum Association recently met with state Sen. Dick Harpootlian at USC so he could congratulate the team for their work in the hackathon competition and discuss the future of quantum computing.

The state earmarked $15 million in 2023 toward equipment and knowledge to leverage the use of quantum computers in South Carolina.

Harpootlian said his fellow lawmakers were reluctant to approve the large $15 million investment because many didn’t know or understand the mechanics of quantum computers. However, he maintains that the investment is paramount to growing the university and the state of South Carolina and that quantum computers are part of the next wave of technology.

“I fought hard for funding, and we got it through, and the team got funded last October,” Harpootlian said. “The Moore School team’s success at MIT demonstrates why we did this.”

Student lead on the hackathon team, Jordan Fowler, spearheaded much of the research alongside his teammates. He was proud to share the quantum computing work that the team has done and what the senator’s support means for future projects.

“Sen. Harpootlian is sort of the intermediary to take this current technology in its state and scale it out within South Carolina and the southeast,” Fowler said.

Harpootlian explained what it means to get behind programs like quantum computing, emphasizing that advancements like these are just the beginning.

“We got students from the Darla Moore School of Business who went to MIT and competed against several national teams on a level that we're just not used to around here, and they came in third, behind a combined Harvard/Yale team and physicists,” Harpootlian said. “So, they demonstrated that given access to a quantum computer and given access to this technology, students in this state can excel.”

Advancing knowledge of quantum computing is imperative to the South Carolina workforce because it provides South Carolinians with the skillset to support the growth of critical technology, South Carolina Quantum Association’s Lane said.

The Moore School is actively pursuing development of a multi-disciplinary course utilizing quantum computing and planning for the future of technology, thanks to the support from South Carolina legislators and the partnership with South Carolina Quantum Association.

“You can have all the talent in the world and the guys that can go and create change, but if you don’t have the resources, the funding, or the capital, you can’t scale change,” Fowler said.

-Christian Osborne

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.