Catching up with Jorgen, two years on....
"I have realised that there are actually very few limits to what is possible."
Jorgen first shared his story early on in his Technician Training Experience at CERN. Here he reflects on what he has gained from his time in this unique organisation at the cutting edge of technology, and how it had prepared him for furthering his studies and his career.
Like all good things in life, my two-year adventure at CERN has eventually come to an end, and I can't see any better way to close this chapter than to spend some time reflecting around what this journey has given me both on a private and professional level.
It is no secret that CERN is an incredible organisation, and its list of merits is long and impressive. For young people like myself who are pursuing a career in engineering, there are very few organisations in the world that are able to stimulate one's technical interest like CERN can, and I am truly grateful for having been granted the opportunity to explore this "playground" first hand.
After working closely with some of the best technicians and engineers in the world, on some of the most complex and delicate machines ever built by man, I have realised that there are actually very few limits to what is possible. However, it requires a fair dose of creativity, dedication and commitment to make it happen. I have to admit that when I was first reading up on the working principles of the equipment I have been working on these past two years, I thought to myself; "Ok, this would work in an ideal world, with perfect vacuum, nano-second timing, temperatures close to absolute zero etc., but no way this would be possible with real world parameters!" It's safe to say that I quickly found out I had to throw all my previously reasonable assumptions out of the window, because at CERN, we actually operate with ultra-high vacuum, we actually use nano-second timing, we actually create temperatures close to absolute zero, and we can thereby actually create ultra high electrostatic and electromagnetic fields, amongst many other things!
CERN's merits and the technology that is used throughout the accelerator complex and in the experiments are truly impressive. However, what has amazed me the most about this organisation is without a doubt its willingness to invest in people, and let young, keen, professionals evolve and grow. The Technician Training Experience (TTE) programme that opened CERN's doors for me for these last two years was put in place to transfer skills and knowledge back to the young technicians and engineers of CERN's member states, and in my experience with this programme, CERN has without a doubt succeeded!
In my case, I came to CERN's Accelerator Beam Transfer group as an 20 year old electrician, expecting to continue working as an electrician during my stay, since the main project I had applied for was focused on the re-cabling of the North Extraction Channel from the SPS to the North Experimental area. To my big surprise, I was given an office on my first day, and sent off to Siemens for training in Industrial controls. Now, about two years later, I have successfully seen through the consolidation of the PE.SEH23 Electrostatic Septum control systems (PS accelerator) with all it comprises; I have, as a work supervisor, successfully seen through a major de-cabling (ca 150km) and cabling (ca 50 km) campaign of SPS point 5 in close collaboration with a brilliant colleague; and I have planned and prepared the re-cabling of the ZS Electrostatic Septa in the North Extraction Channel (SPS), as well as having worked on expanding the control systems for the same equipment.
My work has of course been supervised by skilled technicians and engineers, but I am still both surprised by and grateful for the fact that my supervisors gave me time and room to study, understand, think and come up with good solutions myself, instead of just handing me a finished recipe on a silver platter. As opposed to only making schematics or software for pre-planned systems, I was trusted to do the "engineering" part as well, including reverse-engineering the old systems, looking at possible solutions for what technology to use for the consolidation, drafting engineering specifications for the consolidation of the systems, plan and coordinate with other bodies of CERN, do the electrical design, program the software and finally commission it all. Once again, I was a 20 year old electrician when I came to CERN, and the fact that I have been allowed to work the way I have these last two years clearly shows that CERN takes knowledge transfer seriously, and that they are proactively encourage people to push themselves and thrive.
During these two years in CERN's Accelerator Beam Transfer group, my supervisors have taught me new ways of working, doing things I didn't expect to be doing at this stage in my career. Staying at CERN, looking over the shoulders of my brilliant colleagues and realising the endless possibilities within my field of profession, my motivation for further studies has been given a real boost! As a result of that, I'm now moving back to Norway to start a bachelors degree in electrical engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. And who knows: maybe I will have the chance to come back to CERN some time in the future and once again get to play with the coolest toys on the planet.
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