by Ian Randall. Published: 17 February 2011

A new school at CERN, which immersed its students in eleven days of detector science, has been a great success. The Excellence in Detectors and Instrumentation Technologies (EDIT2011) school, which started on the 31 January, concluded last Friday.

The target audience of EDIT was young researchers – both those finishing their PhD’s or in the first year of their post doctoral study. Covering main areas of detector composition and development (including calorimetry; electronics; gaseous detectors; photo detectors; pixel detectors; silicon detectors and Cherenkov detectors and scintillators) – the course involved an intensive programme of lectures, laboratories and hands-on sessions.

Paula Collins

The EDIT 2011 School of Excellence

"It's aimed for giving people the possibility to get an insight into the various detectors which are used nowadays in large experiments," says Petra Riedler, a member of the CERN ITS team in ALICE, and one of the overseers of the project.

106 specialists were on hand to teach the students, who were grouped into teams of six based on their expertise. This enabled each teacher to adjust the level of their lecture to better suit the audience – with pupils encouraged to provide feedback to better improve the school on the fly.

EDIT was commissioned by the International Committee for Future Accelerators – who currently already run similar schools in developing countries.

“The school is marvelous,” says Paolo Giubellino, ALICE’s spokesperson, adding: “…there is a long tradition of trying to promote instrumentation among young people - this is normally one of the things that is weakest in the university curricula… the problem is that you get these university labs where you experience what was used thirty years ago.”

“The idea is to exploit the very special position that CERN has in terms of facilities. We have done these kinds of schools for a long time in developing countries, but there, of course, the scope and extent of instrumentation that you can bring is limited; while at CERN you have access to a much wider range.”

Over 250 applications were received for this first school, with 88 students accepted onto the programme. Unusually for a hardware school, 40 attendees were people from data analysis backgrounds.

“This is one of the best successes that we have had,” explains Ariella Cattai, the school director. “What we wanted to do was to give to these people - who are doing software analysis - the dimension of the complexity of the detector that is behind their data.”

Furthermore, 10 per cent of the students were people working on future colliders. “This is an indication that the field of high energy physics is still in good shape,” Cattai says.

Feedback from the attendees has been overwhelmingly positive – with a survey showing that 78 per cent of attendees enjoyed the immersive style of the course.

“It was an excellent course …an opportunity to learn from specialists of excellence and to practice with enthusiastic tutors,” one young researcher wrote, adding: “What I learn at EDIT will be very useful in the development of my career and, most of all, it was a very touching experience to share the intellectual honesty.”

EDIT2011, which was inaugurated by CERN’s Director General, Rolf Heuer, was dedicated to the memory of Georges Charpak – the French physicist who was awarded a Nobel prize for his work on the development of particle detectors, specifically the invention of the multiwire proportional chamber.

Paula Collins

A student in one of EDIT's hands-on laboratory sessions

While the future of the school remains to be decided, Cattai is positive that the concept will continue.

“I would be very surprised if there is no future for this school,” she said, adding that, when the Director General of Fermilab visited EDIT, “…he was really impressed by the machine in place, and expressed his wish to do a school at Fermilab in the future.”

ALICE played a significant role in the school1 - “There are several groups in ALICE who have a very strong know-how in detector development, and so there was a fairly enthusiastic reaction when the school had asked us to get involved,” said Giubellino. “It was very good that they got involved and manifested this fact that ALICE is an experiment which is particularly interesting from the point of view of detector development. We have a very wide variety of detectors already on, with very different characteristics.”

“Moreover, it is important that we disseminate what we develop and discover and so initiatives of this kind are important in the general framework of our need to transmit what is found.”

  • 1.

    The help of the following ALICE members is greatly appreciated: Gianluca Aglieri Rinella, Costanza Cavicchioli, Jan de Cuveland, Carnita Hervet, Dirk Hutter, Stefan Kirsch, Marian Krivda, Vito Manzari, Annalisa Mastroserio, Lucy Renshall, Petra Riedler, Romualdo Santoro and Ulla Tihinen.



Well Done!

Am very glad to hear that there are so many active programs reaching out to students from across Europe and the world. Please keep up the good work and, when finances and time allow, please consider allowing some University of Cape Town students to come and visit too!!