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.