Seven UWE students win prestigious placements in CERN

Issue date: 08 July 2010

Seven students from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have won prestigious placements this year at CERN, one of the world's largest and most respected centres for scientific research, and home to the Large Hadron Collider facility. So far this year a total of 14 UK students have been accepted for placements at CERN and more students may be selected later in the year.

At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of nature. The Technical Student Programme is aimed at undergraduate students in applied physics, engineering or computing. They are given a living allowance for Geneva and insurance coverage.

The seven UWE students are all studying various specialisms within computing including software engineering, forensic computing, IT Management for Business and Computer Systems Integration. They will work on projects ranging from implementing a Content Management System in HR to contributing to the Business Support Systems at CERN, and developing software to extract data from Oracle databases.

In addition this year UWE has also won CERN IT Division funding for a PhD student, Alex Loth, for the next three years of around £25K per annum. Alex will work on a project of mutual interest to CERN and UWE.

UWE's has had links with CERN since 1990 and has sent around 50 placement students to the project over the past 20 years, but this is the largest number sent in one year. In addition UWE has had five CERN Doctoral studentships, more than 10 CERN fellowships and two visiting professorships. UWE has collaborated with CERN on key projects such as MammoGrid, Health-e-Child and neuGRID*.

Over the years the partnership with CERN has been worth around £3million to UWE and the University has developed a strong reputation for collaborative research and excellent students. Professor Richard McClatchey of UWE's Centre for Complex Co-Operative Systems, has played a key role in developing the links with CERN. He worked at CERN for 11 years, and is a CERN Scientific Associate and has held a Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship at CERN.

Professor McClatchey says, “CERN is an ideal place for young student scientists to serve their apprenticeship. It is an exciting environment and a truly unique organisation. It promotes genuine collaboration between countries, universities and scientists, driven not by profit margins, but by a commitment to create and share knowledge.

“Our links with CERN are extensive and include other areas as well as student placements.
For example UWE staff have worked with CERN to develop CRISTAL Computer experts assist at CERN's Large Hadron Collider, a software programme designed as part of the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment. It has enabled scientists to track thousands of constituent parts through hundreds of complex activities over CMS's extended 10-year construction period. This software has now been adapted for industry across the spectrum from concurrent engineering design to business process management.

“UWE and its Centre for Complex Computing Systems was the first University to be granted associate status in the CMS experiment at CERN. We are well placed to collaborate with CERN as we understand both the physics aspects of the work and are also able to offer the computer science expertise that is needed for the project.”

Through UWE's links with CERN over the years, many alumni have gone on to take jobs at CERN, and they continue to share their enthusiasm and knowledge with current students.

One of the first students to take up the opportunity of a placement at CERN was Steven Murray who joined UWE in 1993 via a foundation course at Soundwell College in Bristol. Steven did a BSC in Computing for Real time Systems and a placement at CERN. He gained a 1st class honours degree and studied for his PhD in France. He took up a fellowship at CERN and is now a software engineer in the IT division working on the CERN advanced storage manager which currently holds 27 petabytes of physics production files and user files.

Steven says “My experience of UWE before coming to CERN enabled me to take on complex technical challenges with confidence and it enforced my enthusiasm to always learn more. I am happy to encourage other students who want to follow this path, because at CERN you will always find challenging projects with teams of people from all over the world.”

Editor's Notes

About CERN – Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe's first joint ventures and now has 20 Member States. The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions. See:

*UWE has collaborated with CERN on key projects such as
MammoGrid, Health-e-Child and neuGRID projects. For further details see:

Research in Bristol Institute of Technology (UWE):

Centre for Complex Co-Operative Systems:

Links below to previous UWE press releases;

Computer experts assist at CERN's Large Hadron Collider

Using grids to help in fight against breast cancer

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