Good-bye Summer Students 2009!

In its 47th edition, the CERN Summer Student programme has welcomed almost 200 young students from around the world. As it proves to do each year, the programme has provided a unique experience for all participants.

CERN Summer Students 2009 in the Microcosm garden.

During the summer months between June and August, your normal lunchtime routine is inevitably disrupted by the small stampede of students that leaves the Main Auditorium just around midday and starts queuing in Restaurant 1. When this happens, you can’t help but notice that the CERN Summer Students have arrived!

With its rich lecture series, inspirational visits and actual work experience, the Summer Student programme provides a real chance to get acquainted with a career in particle physics, engineering and computation. The programme includes a morning lecture series that covers a large variety of topics, from particle physics to engineering, information technology and statistics, and during the afternoon, each student works as a member of one of the experimental teams on a specific supervised project. Discussion sessions complement the morning lectures and each student has the unique chance to descend 100 m underground for a visit to one of the experiments located around the LHC ring. At the end of their stay, students submit brief reports on their assigned projects, and a selected few make short presentations in the Main Auditorium, describing to their colleagues the work that they have been doing at CERN.

Needless to say, this is a very important experience for those who are chosen to participate. The majority of the students are entering their final year of undergraduate education and the experience provides them with an excellent insight into what they will pursue after obtaining their degree. "It’s a fantastic way to actually get involved with ongoing scientific research," explains Will Barter, who studies at Cambridge University, "It is very useful for me and for the other students because we are at the point when we need to work out where we are going with our careers and whether we really do want to pursue science."

The prospect of learning from and working alongside scientists conducting the world-leading research at CERN attracts students from both Member and many non-Member States. "This year, a total of 174 students have been enrolled from both member States and non-Member States with Summer Student contracts," says Ingrid Schmid, Coordinator of the programme. "The students attending from non-Member states are participating with the help of John Ellis, the Coordinator for non-Member States. Also there are many more Member State and non-Member State students who have come to follow the lectures but are supported financially by their respective universities or other funding agencies." John Ellis reckons that, in addition to students from the 20 Member States, some 40 non-Member States are represented this year. All will take back with them unforgettable memories of a global partnership in science.

Along with the official programme organized by the HR Department, Summies (as they are commonly called) never fail to set up an after-work programme of social activities, which includes outings and parties. This year they have also formed a Facebook group to aid with organization and spreading news and they have even designed their own souvenir T-shirt. All information about the programme, its past editions and a link to the application form for future editions can be found here.