2020 IEEE Quantum Week (QCE20) – Virtual Event Case Study
With ongoing travel restrictions and public gatherings still prohibited by circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the organizers for IEEE International Conference on Quantum Computing and Engineering (QCE20) — an inaugural multidisciplinary event covering quantum computing and engineering — made the decision to convert the in-person event, originally planned to take place Oct 12-16 in Broomfield, Colorado, to an all-digital conference experience.
Each day, the QCE20 conference virtually-delivered 9 parallel tracks, comprising: 10 world-class keynotes, 16 workforce-building tutorials, 21 community-building workshops, 49 technical paper presentations, 30 innovative posters, and 7 thought-provoking panels through a digital combination of pre-recorded and live-streamed sessions—more than 270 hours of quantum content, presentations, sessions, networking, exhibitors, and discussion.
The organizers initially had comprehensive plans for an in-person conference with potential to include some elements for a hybrid meeting at the Colorado location. With the pandemic situation still ongoing, however, critical decisions were made to convert to an all-virtual event.
The committee wanted to stay as true as possible to the original technical program of invited talks and paper and poster presentations, as well as to fulfill networking and exhibitor expectations. Authors would virtually deliver presentations with conference attendees participating in real-time for Q&A and meetups via the online platform.
QCE20 challenges included:
Catering to different sectors including established companies, start-ups, government, and academic institutes
Selecting a virtualization platform with the capabilities to support this extensive program of concurrent events over five days
In an extremely compressed timeframe, the Computer Society (CS) team assisted the committee to build a scalable platform with worldwide access on the Hubb virtual platform and CS infrastructure. Several key factors informed the choice of platform:
Effective onboarding for staff, exhibitors, and attendees
Saturated program — 9 parallel tracks per day across five days
Novel keynote format — 2 keynotes per day as bookends, including the talks with formal Q&A plus informal hangouts to chat with the speakers
Program with no breaks across 11-hour days — required skilled team of Zoom techs
On‐demand access for 6 weeks past the end of the conference
Lessons learned regarding the virtual platform:
Virtualization platforms are more complex to orchestrate than regular A/V
Virtualization in 3 weeks requires a very effective team
Virtualization A/V is more expensive than regular A/V
Onboarding or familiarizing in advance is critical — ideally, at least two weeks for attendees
QCE20 Survey Results
Survey results provided the following very positive attendee feedback for the first-ever IEEE Quantum Week event:
84% indicated they were satisfied with QCE 2020
70% are likely to attend QCE 2021 in person if global travel has resumed. Nearly ten percent more (79%) are likely to do so if it is virtual
40% presented original research at QCE 2020.
Respondents were most likely to attend Keynotes (90%), Workshops (81%), and Tutorials (76%)
IEEE Quantum Week was technically, financially, and virtually successful
Attendance was higher than expected with nearly 850 paid registrants
The virtual experience was better than expected (Per survey results, 84% indicated they were satisfied with QCE 2020)
Strong staff support through IEEE Computer Society and IEEE Quantum Initiative – the committee and staff communicated regularly and worked as a team to organize the event. The committee was able to take advantage of the staff’s extensive knowledge and best practices from their experience managing previous virtual events.
Virtual platform through Hubb.me performed very well with support from Computer Society staff. The computer society staff provided training sessions to the speakers and exhibitors and managed the entire live event experience. The Hubb platform was responsive and easy to navigate, and the instructions by the IEEE CS staff provided registered attendees direct access to the sessions, exhibit rooms, and participation in the live Q & A.
Access to the QCE20 content – registered attendees could access the 270 hours of IEEE Quantum Week programming ON-DEMAND until Nov 30, 2020
QCE20 Proceedings were published in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library and the Computer Society Digital Library
QCE20 is co-sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society, IEEE Communications Society, IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Council on Superconductivity, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, IEEE Future Directions Quantum Initiative, and IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society.