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Postcard from Switzerland

Eddie Vaisman
Class of 2012, Dual major in electrical engineering and physics
Co-op in Geneva, Switzerland

For the past month, I have been working at CERN: The European Organization for Nuclear Research—a leading laboratory for particle physics. I am currently part of two projects related to a large experiment: the Compact Muon Solenoid, a particle physics detector.

For one project, I’m trying to explain why certain components in the detector are failing. For the other, I’m designing an upgraded test stand for power distribution boards, and determining points of failure in these boards.

In the component-failure project, I’m working with more than 600 files, with anywhere between 10 and 100 lines in each file. I have had to learn text file data manipulation programming, which is an absolute must for anyone involved in scientific research because of the high volume of data involved. I’ve taken introductory programming at Northeastern, but now I’ve had to learn a completely new language for the type of work I’m doing at CERN. This will be invaluable in my career.

Half of my communication is in English, and the other half is in Russian. I also happen to be living just across the Swiss border, in Ferney-Voltaire, France. So I’m speaking three languages on a regular basis. It’s a very multicultural experience.

I chose to come to CERN for a few reasons. I want to discover whether I want to work on the world’s most advanced scientific experiments after I graduate. I also want to experience working for a big company, since my previous two co-ops were with small firms.

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