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My summer at CERN - an undergraduate student's placement experience

Thomas at CERN

21 September 2015

'This summer I decided to do something a bit different. Rather than spend it working in the UK, I lived in Switzerland for two months, working as a Summer Student at CERN,' says Thomas Hancock, an undergraduate in the School of Physics.

We asked Thomas to tell us about his summer, and he writes:

My work involved developing monitoring software for Fast TracKer, a hardware system which performs track reconstruction for ATLAS (look it up, it's really cool). Not only did I really enjoy developing the system, but my code is now running at Point 1 of the LHC, where ATLAS is situated, and is being used by physicists who are actually running the detector!

One thing which I overlooked when applying was the fact that I'd be working in a hugely international environment. Obviously I knew this, but I did not quite comprehend what this meant until I arrived. A lot of the summer students live on site at CERN, and so it's a bit like reliving first year, except everyone is from a different country and has new and interesting stories to tell. I've made friends from literally all over the globe, and I'm going to miss them dearly now I'm back in the UK (although I'm sure I'll run into them again in the future).

For anyone in their third year who is tempted to apply, I would say go for it. The application doesn't take too long to fill in, and the reward if you are accepted is an incredible summer, spent with awesome people from all over the earth, at one of the most amazing laboratories in the world!


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