In June, CERN welcomed 12 gifted young scientists for a weeklong visit. The talented students aged 15-18 were the winners of the CERN award, a special prize co-funded by CERN and Intel and presented every year at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).
The award was set up in 2009 as an opportunity to bring some of the brightest young minds to CERN. Winners are selected from among 1500 students participating in ISEF – the world's largest pre-university science competition, in which students compete for more than €3 million in prizes.
“CERN gave an award – this trip – to students studying physics, maths, electrical engineering and computer science,” says Benjamin Craig Bartlett, 17, from South Carolina in the US, whose project looked at infrared detectors. “They got a copy of our project abstracts and test results, and after a special test and an interview they chose 12 of us to come to CERN.”
Following an itinerary organized by CERN’s Wolfgang von Rüden, the students spent the week touring the CERN site and surrounding Geneva area, visiting glaciers and lecture halls, control centres and chateaux. They also had the chance for some one-to-one time with CERN scientists. “The experience we had with our own scientists was – at least personally – very enlightening,” said Valerie Ding, 15, from Oregon in the US, whose project looked at white-light LEDs. “We were able to spend time with the scientists in their regular environment, experiencing a couple of hours of their day-to-day work.”
Many of the students were paired with experts in the very fields they had chosen for their projects. “I spent the day with one of the heads of detector technology here, and he took me to one of the clean labs,” said Saumil Bandyopadhyay, 17, from Virginia, US. “I got to see some of the detectors they are building right now, using the newest photodetector technology, which was great because that was what my project was on.”
When asked to summarize their experience at CERN, their response was overwhelmingly positive: “Great.” – “Amazing.” – “Awesome.” – “Absolutely wonderful.” Here’s hoping every student visiting CERN leaves with the same impression!