'Lightning talks' bring 2018 CERN openlab summer-student programme to a close

Last week, the CERN openlab summer students presented the cutting-edge ICT projects they have been working on over the past two months in a series of five-minute ‘lightning talk’ presentations.

This year, the CERN openlab summer-student programme featured 41 students from 22 different countries. These students were selected from over 1800 applicants, a new record for the programme.

The students have each spent nine weeks at CERN on their projects, which involved working hands-on with some of the latest ICT systems. Projects addressed topics such as machine learning, code modernisation, data analytics, and much more. The students presented their projects in two separate sessions, on 14 August and 16 August. A panel of judges selected the best three ‘lightning talk’ presentations from each of these sessions.

The winners of the first session were as follows:

The winners of the second session were as follows:

“The CERN openlab summer-student programme offers a combination of experiences you cannot find anywhere else,” says Nathan Lacroix of ETH Zurich, who was selected as the overall winner of this year’s ‘lightning talks’. “I met 40 funny and talented students from all over the world, made contacts with major ICT companies, and worked on a fascinating and challenging project. It was an intense summer!’”

Lectures and visits — at CERN and beyond

Lacroix also mentions the series of lectures given to the students as another highlight of the programme. As in previous years, experts from CERN gave lectures to the students on a range of topics related to physics and computing, including computer security, how to write better code, the history of computing at CERN, and the vital role played by various ICT systems in discovering the Higgs boson. All lectures were webcast live and are now available here.

As well as the lectures, the students were able to learn more about the CERN through visits to various parts of the laboratory. Sites visited included the ALICE, ATLAS, and AMS experiments, the Antimatter Factory, the Synchrocyclotron, the CERN Control Centre, and the CERN Data Centre.

However, the students didn’t just visit sites at CERN. Again, as in previous years, the students went on a two-day trip to Zurich, where they visited Open Systems, IBM, and ETH Zürich.

A festival of ideas at the annual ‘Webfest’

Another highlight of the summer was the CERN Summer Student Webfest. The event is a hackathon, through which bright and creative minds meet over a weekend to build cool science projects using open web technologies. This year’s Webfest, which was supported by CERN openlab, featured nine fascinating and original projects, related to topics such as data visualisation, robotics,  education, and networking.

The event is open to all at CERN. However, this year’s winning team consisted of five students participating in the CERN openlab summer-student programme. Their project, ‘CERN-Connect’, is a web application that connects events and people across the CERN site using geolocalisation. The members of the team described the hackathon as providing an excellent opportunity to learn and develop new skills along with your friends.

”From the start of the webfest, I felt inspired,” says Letizia Diamante, a member of the CERN press office who took part in the event. “It was my first hackathon, and I now hope to attend other similar events in the future.”

Join us next year

“CERN openlab works to promote and create innovation; it also plays an important role in CERN’s educational mission, particularly through this IT-focused summer-student programme’, says Alberto Di Meglio, head of CERN openlab. ‘The various events held over the last two months combine the best of both worlds, providing exciting opportunities for young, talented students to share ideas, work together, and generate the spark of innovation.”

“As well as helping to train the students, the programme also offers great benefits to all of us here at CERN,” says Girone, CTO of CERN openlab. “It’s a joy to see these passionate young students come here, absorb new information, and bring fresh ideas and creativity to the laboratory.”

Students wishing to participate in the 2019 CERN openlab summer-student programme should check the CERN openlab website again when applications open in December. In the meantime, more information about the programme can be found here.