by Polly Bennett. Published: 18 May 2012

Vasco laughs sheepishly as he describes his first year at CERN. It was a year with the boys, living in the mountains above Geneva. “It was a big shock to move from Portugal to the mountains, and a big change in habits. We rented a chalet, all wood, up in Col de la Faucille and the place was just amazing. We spent a whole year there and so we got all the seasons. When we went to visit, it was autumn and very beautiful, but then winter came and it was a different story. I remember some very cold nights and having to clear the snow from the front of the house every morning. It was rough because it was such a harsh winter, but it was fun.”

Vasco Chibante Barroso

Vasco Chibante Barroso

Vasco and 3 other young, Portuguese graduates came to CERN for internships in 2005, as part of an agreement between CERN and the Portuguese government. Aside from braving a mountain winter, skiing, and chalet parties, Vasco, who first studied in Portugal as a computer engineer, spent his year in the IT department. A chance job opening at the end of his internship suddenly found him on a Marie Curie Fellowship in the ALICE Data Acquisition (DAQ) group. “I saw the advert for this position about 48 hours before the deadline. I had to get 3 recommendation letters and all sorts of things to be able to apply. So I called people, talked with my boss, and finally got all the documents. I went to the HR department to fill in all the paperwork at like 4pm on the last day.” Vasco was accepted in the DAQ group at the end of 2006, and has been there ever since.

Vasco explains his current role, “the DAQ group is responsible for reading the data from the detectors. It then validates, packages and ships the data to the CERN computer centre. Specifically, I work more in software development at the moment, namely an application called the ALICE Electronic Logbook, which is the bookkeeping repository for all the meta-data associated with the data taking activities of ALICE. This is where you have all the Run statistics; so it’s not the data itself, but instead all the information about the data acquisition that happens at point 2.” He adds, “I’ve also worked on other projects like the ALICE Configuration Tool, which is an application to configure the different sub-systems of ALICE in an easy and user-friendly way.”

On making the move abroad Vasco says. “I like the region and Geneva. I know a lot of people think Geneva is a bit dull but I like this city a lot.” Vasco goes on to describe how he has transferred his Portuguese lifestyle to his city life now in Geneva. “I come from a town called Évora in the south of Portugal, so being a southern European I like to live my life around the table. For me the perfect night is just with some friends at home, with good food, nice wine and just talking until everybody is ready to go to bed.”

“It was always a personal objective of mine to work abroad; not only for the professional experience, but also for the personal one. I wanted to meet new cultures, new people. It’s been very fulfilling. I have a contract until 2015 and I really enjoy working at CERN, particularly in the ALICE DAQ Group, which is amazing. People are friendly and it’s a good environment so I would love staying there.”