CERN holds spring campus event at Glasgow University


Credit: Frederico Cintra

Andrew McCluskey
News Reporter

A range of CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) experts visited Glasgow at the start of April to give talks at the “CERN Spring Campus” – an event which CERN runs annually at various higher education institutions.

The experts gave talks and workshops on a multitude of Computing and IT topics. These ranged from technical workshops of emerging technologies like Machine Learning to talks on how the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) filters down the huge volume of data it generates to the pros and cons of JavaScript, the programming language used to make websites dynamic. During these talks, a consistent theme was the application of these technologies at CERN. Aside from this, students were also provided with a thorough explanation of CERN’s history, purpose and day-to-day operation.

The event targeted final year BSc and MSc Computer Science students, but participants ranged from first year up to graduates. Students travelled from around Scotland to attend the conference – Abertay, Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow were just some of the institutes represented.

The conference also included social events at the Hunterian Museum and WEST brewery, providing an opportunity for students to discuss the concepts brought up at the talks. In addition to this, a coding competition (known as a “hackathon”) took place.

Around one hundred students attended the four-day conference, which was organised by Glasgow’s Professor of Computer Science Tim Storer and CERN’s Derek Mathieson.

Eve, a first year Computing Science student from the University of Glasgow said: “The lectures covered a diverse and interesting range of topics and I had fun learning more about CERN’s computer systems as well as gaining a basic understanding of some of the more general roles of CERN as an organisation.

“I was really excited to get the opportunity to attend such a great event at my university and meet a wide variety of other students from different backgrounds.”

Another first year Computing Scientist, Sam, told The Glasgow Guardian that the event “has helped me get an insight of computing science in the real world.”

The CERN organisers were keen to inform the attendees that Brexit will not have an effect on CERN employment prospects. As CERN was initiated in 1954 after World War II aiming to reignite science in Europe and reduce the “brain-drain” of scientists to the US and USSR, CERN is not a part of the European Union which was formed after it in 1958. CERN’s employees are offered free passage by the member countries that fund the research, regardless of status in the EU.

Derek Mathieson, who organised the event on CERN’s side, said: “CERN is proud to be part of the University of Glasgow’s 60 years of computing celebration. The CERN Spring Campus is a special event that showcases the information technology at the heart of CERN’s work.”

He continued to praise the student attendees: “I have been very impressed by the great interactivity of the sessions this year with great questions from many students, a real testament to the high quality of computer science undergraduates here.”