Without doubt, it's every particle physicist's dream to be involved in some experiment at CERN. And my dream has just come true.
My name is Chilufya MWEWA and I'm from Zambia. I am currently pursuing a master's degree in experimental High Energy Physics (HEP) at the Unversity of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa.
I first heard about HEP when I attended the African school of physics in the year 2010. Since then, my career direction has been towards HEP and I have since desired to take part in the amazing work being done at CERN.
Last year when I was enrolled for a master's degree at UCT, my supervisor, Dr Andrew Hamilton, informed me of the amazing opportunities available at CERN, such as the summer school programme. He then advised me to apply for it earlier this year, and I got it! I packed my bags and rushed to Europe, for the very first time in my life and most of all, to be part of one of the greatest research centers of all time: CERN. I couldn't be happier.
At CERN, I was assigned to work with the ALICE detector's high level trigger group, supervised by Dr Thorsten Kolleger. My project involved developing an algorithm to filter out low transverse momentum electrons from track information in the Time Projection Chamber. At first, this seemed really difficult, but with the help of my supervisor, I managed to understand the underlying concepts and my work suddenly became very enjoyable. I would do it again!
I enjoyed every second of working at ALICE. It's such an amazing collaboration of scientists who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise and invest it in uprising scientists with no restraints. Everyone at ALICE seemed to embrace the future of physics and they all seemed very coorporative. Very impressive indeed. Besides the hardwork, there was a lot of fun at CERN and in the surrounding areas. It was good to know that besides working very hard,people also found time to relax. There was either a party or a BBQ every week and I attended most of them. In addition, I met lots of amazing friends with whom I had adventure every weekend. We attended great music festivals in Switzerland and also the epic Nationale Bastille day in Paris, France. I also tried paragliding for the first time in Interlaken, Switzerland. Just to mention a few.
Back to the work, I learnt a lot of Physics theories, experiments, computing and engineering techniques for which I will always be grateful. I feel so privileged to have been part of the world's biggest research center, full
of amazing people from all over the world. To sum up everything, I had a chance to visit the ALICE, ATLAS and CMS detectors, all of which were mind blowing.
I believe that working at CERN has equipped me to be a great physicist and I'll continue moving forward with that in mind. I hope that more and more students around the world get to have this life changing experience.
Surely CERN is the place to be and given another opportunity, I would be extremely glad to work at CERN again.