by Panos Charitos. Published: 20 August 2013

How did you decide to apply for the summer student programme?

I have always wanted to explore the world. Study abroad is the perfect choice since I can continue my study and see the world in parallel. CERN summer student programme was advertised in many universities across Thailand. Due to its short period, eight weeks for non-member states, I thought it would be a perfect step for me in going abroad. I knew CERN as a place where the LHC is, but did not know much about the inside. This is my first time at CERN, and I hope it is not my last.

Tell us a few words about your project…

 Here I work in ALICE with silicon microchannels that are used in the cooling system for the ITS upgrade. I am doing MATLAB simulation for the optimum pressure drop model in the microchannel. Moreover, I also help with the design of the photolithography mask.

Is your experience at CERN close to what you had expected?

Before coming here, I thought that CERN would be an almost sterilized environment and the people would be very strict. My experience so far is exactly the opposite. The atmosphere is rather friendly and I met many nice people. Moreover, I did not expect it to be this close to nature – there are fields and hills and mountains everywhere. I think it is better than what I was expecting.

How familiar were you with your project?

I had a review over the ITS upgrade, but it was so hard to understand because everything was completely new to me. When I finally came here, my supervisors were kind enough to explain in detail what they were on about. It was very nice of them. I had some idea about microchannels and have seen the fabrication before when I attended ASEAN Synchrotron Camp hosted by SLRI (Synchrotron Light Research Institute) in Thailand. However, what I am doing here is the application of what I have seen, so it is not totally new to me.

Would you like to spend more time at CERN? Which are your future research plans?

 I think that probably I will be spending more time working in the same project and I hope that I will spend some more time at CERN in the future. My Bachelor project is in forensic science even though I was studying physics, so I did not see or do much in high energy physics that I could come up with a research plan. However, after my time as a summer student my study plan would definitely be in particle physics :)

Did you enjoy the Swiss summer? Did you have the time to visit/travel outside CERN?

The Swiss summer is pretty much like ordinary days in Thailand and the weather is quite similar. I have seen amazing cities and countrysides of Switzerland. I went to Geneva a few times without ever feeling bored as there are so many amazing things around. I also visited Yvoire and I loved the European-style houses, they looked so warm and full of life and stories. I also went to Stoos and Caumasee last week with my friends. We took cable car up to the top of the mountain and wandered around. The view up there was breath-taking. And when you could hear nothing but the wind, it was very peaceful.

The things that impressed you the most...?

The thing that impressed me is how much Europeans appreciate music and arts and the number of art museums, concerts and shows. I remember walking in Geneva during the weekend. It was a lovely Saturday with blue sky, warm sun and cool breeze. And all in a sudden I heard people playing the Four Season's in violins. That made my day :) And another time was during the fireworks at Ferney-Voltaire. There was classic music playing along the fireworks and they were even synchronized! When the rhythm was fast, there would be lots of fireworks popping in the sky. When the music was slow, you only saw one long firework at a time.

From my time as a summer student at CERN I will remember...

I will remember all the people that I have met. It was quite amazing knowing people from all around the world, talking about their countries, their cultures, and their point of view.