CERN welcomes Intel Science Fair winners

This June, CERN welcomed twelve gifted young scientists aged 15-18 for a week-long visit of the Laboratory. These talented students were the winners of a special award co-funded by CERN and Intel, given yearly at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).


The CERN award winners at the Intel ISEF 2012 Special Awards Ceremony. © Society for Science & the Public (SSP).

The CERN award was set up back in 2009 as an opportunity to bring some of the best and brightest young minds to the Laboratory. The award winners are selected from among 1,500 talented students participating in ISEF – the world's largest pre-university science competition, in which students compete for more than €3 million in awards.

“CERN gave an award – which was obviously this trip – to students studying physics, maths, electrical engineering and computer science,” says Benjamin Craig Bartlett, 17, from South Carolina, USA, 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 twelve of us to come to CERN.”

Following an itinerary organised by CERN’s Wolfgang von Rüden, the students spent the week touring the CERN site and the surrounding Geneva area, visiting glaciers and lecture halls, control centres and chateaux. They also had the chance for some one-on-one time with CERN scientists. “The experience we had with our own scientists was – at least personally – very enlightening,” said Valerie S. Ding, 15, from Oregon, USA, 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, USA. “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 summarise their experience at CERN, their response was overwhelmingly positive: “Great.” – “Amazing.” – “Awesome.” – “Absolutely wonderful.” Here’s hoping that every student visiting CERN leaves with the same impression!

Read more about the CERN award and its previous winners in the Bulletin article:  “A glimpse into the future for 12 young scientists”.

by Katarina Anthony