CERN summer students share their stories

The CERN summer students of 2015 (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

This year 280 summer students from 83 different countries took part in the CERN summer student programme. This programme has been running since 1962 and invites students studying physics, computing and engineering to take part in the day-to-day work of CERN’s experiments and to grow their own projects over the course of 8 to 13 weeks. "The number of people who share the same aspirations and interests makes CERN the perfect place to work," says Tereza Kroupa, a summer student from University College London working on the CMS experiment at CERN.

Tereza Kroupa, a summer student working on the CMS experiment (Image: Matilda Heron/CERN)

“It’s so interesting to be able to meet people from so many different countries. I wasn’t expecting there to be so many summer students, it really blew my mind,” says Martin Adam, a summer student from Charles University in Prague and the Nuclear Physics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences who is working in the IT department at CERN. “The CERN summer student programme is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m so glad I didn’t miss it.”

Through the intensive programme the students work side-by-side with experts in their field of study. "My project is quite a hands-on, nuts-and-bolts sort of job. I do a bit of soldering and getting my hands dirty and I like that kind of thing," says Thomas Parton, a summer student working on the ATLAS experiment who will be starting his masters in theoretical physics at the University of Cambridge this October.

As well as working closely with their supervisors, the students benefit from lectures on a range of topics in the fields of theoretical and experimental particle physics and computing. "In the lectures we get taught by world-class professors, serious boffins in their field," says Thomas.

Thomas Parton, a summer student working on the ATLAS experiment (Image: Matilda Heron/CERN)

Over the course of the programme, the summer students also take part in discussion sessions, workshops and a poster session as well as tours of CERN sites. “My favourite tour was the CERN Control Centre – It’s exactly how you imagine it in the films with banks of computers and people looking at the screens and graphs. It kind of reminded me of a tour of the NASA facility and the control centres there  it had the same emotional impact and excitement. When you look at it you think: 'Wow something is really going on here, something really ground breaking.'"

Throughout the summer, parties, barbecues, and trips have been organised for the summer students. "You could find one or two great moments every week," says Martin. "The social side of the summer student programme has definitely ticked the boxes," says Thomas. "Any night of the week if you wanted to go and hang out you could find people. It's a really fantastic place to work and I've had an awful lot of fun."

Read more about the summer student programme here

Martin Adam, a summer student working in the IT department (Image: Matilda Heron/CERN)