by Virginia Greco. Published: 13 October 2018

Last summer, the ALICE collaboration welcomed fifteen students coming from all over the world, who joined the CERN Summer Student Programme. They spent between eight and ten weeks at the laboratory, following a busy schedule of lessons, workshops and hands-on projects. We talked with some of them about this experience and their impressions about it.

A student of Applied Computer Science at the Technology University of Freiberg (TU Bergakademie Freiberg), Jonas Toth spent last summer at CERN working on an “unusual” project: the development of a software platform for the ALICE Masterclasses.

He had completed his Bachelor’s studies, with a thesis on the calibration of omni-directional camera setups to be applied on a mining robot, and was interested in making a work experience. He learnt about the CERN Summer Student Programme from a past roommate and decided to apply. Thanks to his experience in C++ coding, he was selected for this project. “I knew from the C++ community that at CERN this language is largely used,” he explains “and it interested me on the technical side. So, I thought it was a good opportunity”. 

The project he worked on was oriented at improving the ALICE Masterclasses codebase and transforming it into a platform where new content could be easily added. Of course, this was not directly related to physics research, but gave him the opportunity to sharpen his practical skills in C++ coding and programming techniques.

Discovering the way physics analysis is developed was very interesting as well,” Jonas highlights, “and I had the occasion to learn even a bit of particle physics.”

In addition to the interesting learning experience, Jonas really appreciated the working environment and the good relationship he could establish with both the other summer students and the scientists he worked with. He could make new friends and meet people from all around the world – the thing that often strikes the most newcomers to CERN. 

Besides programming and playing around with computers, he likes biking and hiking, sports that he could practice in the region around CERN. “But the activity I certainly enjoyed the most,” he recounts, “was paragliding.”