by Usman Amin Fiaz. Published: 18 August 2014

I am Usman Amin Fiaz, an undergraduate student of Electrical Engineering (final year) at Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS), Islamabad, Pakistan. My dream of visiting CERN started back in 2012, following the discovery of the Higgs boson. Then I read more about the largest particle accelerator facility in the world and the finest place for people to work. Last year I had the chance to interact with people from CERN but I wasn't able to come and work in such a wonderful environment for research and innovation. This year I applied for this programme and luckily was accepted. It was a very exciting thing for me indeed.

I was placed at the ALICE Experiment, to work in the electronics readout improvement of the High Momentum Particle Identification Detector (HMPID) and I was supervised by Giacomo Volpe, who taught me a lot and helped me throughout, about HMPID. For the electronics part, I was also supervised by Manlio Minervini (PH-UAI). My work was strongly related to electronics because the readout mechanism consists of FPGAs and other front board electronics. I also learned how to program these FPGAs in VHDL language. I had to translate the HMPID Readout modules from AHDL (old version language) to VHDL(modern version). In this way I just learned a new Hardware Description Language.

I attended most of the lectures and specially enjoyed those about accelerators, detector electronics, cosmology and astrophysics. These lectures were given by some of the world’s top experts. I attended several workshops such as: ROOT Workshop, Cloud Chamber Workshop, Mad Graph Workshop and some seminars as well. Visits to the underground detectors and other facilities were amazing. ATLAS, ALICE and CMS are very complex detectors and it was really amazing to be there! Other visited facilities include ISOLDE, Anti-Proton Decelerator, LINAC, CLIC, SM-18 and Computer and Data Centre. I also had the chance to visit new places, learn a lot about different cultures and make new friends from different countries. I was happy to know them and we had lots of fun together! I spent my weekends visiting Geneva, Nyon, Bern, Zurich, Lausanne, Interlaken and Paris. All in all being a summer student at CERN is an experience that I'll never forget. I wish I could visit CERN again very soon!