Technical Student Programme: projects


Technical student programme projects

The following table shows a few examples of the projects that will be considered for the next Technical student selection round.

If any of these project examples interest you specifically, you can specify up to three project number(s) by order of priority in the application process, in the corresponding question in the application process.

Please note that this is not mandatory, nor is it a guarantee that the project you select will be the final one you work on. Further, your application will be considered even without a specific project being chosen.

For information, CERN typically selects around 80-100 technical students at each selection committee.


Project number Discipline Project Title Project Description

IT, mathematics and robotics 

VectorFlow: a vector processing service Many FLOP-intensive high-energy physics algorithms could profit from the vector pipelines of modern processors; they don’t because they don’t have vectorizable inner loops. The project proposes implementing and benchmarking a generic vector flow service that can non-intrusively integrate with arbitrary data processing frameworks and can expose algorithms to the higher-level event loop of these frameworks. The idea is to extract data from the main loop of the client framework, passing them directly to  vectorized algorithms.  Requires being familiar with  advanced C++ features.

IT, Mathematics and robotics

Geometry navigation optimizers for detector modelling The VecGeom project aims at developing a high-performance library for geometry modelling, describing geometry in terms of 3D solid primitives. The library provides vectorized ray-solid intersection algorithms and other geometry-specific functionality that make use of fine-grained SIMD and SIMT parallelism. The project aims to optimizing these algorithms by implementing a geometry topology discovery service and generating specialized code. Requires being familiar with  advanced C++ features.

Applied physics / IT, mathematics and robotics 

Fast Simulation shower libraries framework development With increased luminosity of the future particles accelerators, the experiments will require larger numbers of simulated events in order to reduce the statistical uncertainty of the predictions. On the other hand, the computing resources will not be sufficient to perform the detailed simulation of all those events and therefore some approximate methods, so called ‘fast simulation’ need to be developed. One of those fast simulation methods consists of using ’shower libraries’, where pre-simulated calorimeter shower events (‘frozen showers’) are stored in a reusable form. This project focuses on the development of common across the experiments solutions to provide a framework for handling those ‘shower libraries’ and integrating them in the Geant4 simulation infrastructure.

IT, mathematics and robotics

Continuous Delivery for the CernVM Software and Services CernVM is a Linux virtual appliance that provides a complete and portable environment for developing and running HEP data analyses in the Cloud. In contrast to off-the-shelf virtual appliances, CernVM exploits the CernVM File System and the "micro bootloader" concept, two technologies developed at CERN that provide efficient distribution of large application software stacks on a global scale. This project should transform the CernVM software deployment process towards "continues delivery" best practices. The aim is a fully automated production of the final software products, including documentation and status and health reporting. 

IT, mathematics and robotics

Geometry Description Markup Language (GDML) development and extensions Since its first release about 10 years ago, GDML has proven to be an essential tool both as an interchange format as well as the native geometry description language. The GDML readers and writers for Geant4 and ROOT have been available to the users and recently, the first version of the GDML reader for the VecGeom package has been implemented.
This project focuses on the further development and improvements of the GDML system. You will review the schema and add new elements, as well as the implementation and possibly work on new versions of the Geant4 and ROOT GDML modules and further develop the VecGeom one. You will also take care of reviewing the documentation, creating a new GDML web page and providing all the necessary user support.

IT, mathematics and robotics

Website developer You will join an agile team within CERN’s Business Computing (BC) group. You will be responsible for the maintenance and development of websites that the BC group maintains for different customer services and departments within CERN. The principal technologies you will be using are HTML5, PHP, JavaScript and SQL. You will develop, test and maintain the websites primarily with the Drupal content management system (CMS). You will also use software development lifecycle management tools such as git and Jira. Part of your work will involve providing support to the website users and implies analysing of and answering to related support tickets.

IT, mathematics and robotics

Quantitative finance

At the CERN Pension Fund you’ll work on the cutting edge of technology. With the latest tools and technologies available at your fingertips and a freedom to experiment and create in friendly environment, it’s the Computer Scientists’ dream. The Quantitative Finance project aims to provide the Investment Group with tools for monitoring and improving the quality and returns of our investments. Two major parts of the system are Reporting and the Quant Finance. The Reporting system aids portfolio and risk managers by providing analysis of both market data and our portfolio. The Quant Finance project is used for extensive testing of trading strategies and performing various analysis of the investment products. It deals with large amounts of data and performs many complex calculations per second.


Applied physics 

Improving the splitting efficiency in the transfer lines of the North Area The 400 GeV proton beam slow-extracted from the SPS is simultaneously shared to three experimental targets in the North Area (NA) by splitting it directly on a collimator in front of a Lambertson septum. This brute force approach results in a relatively low splitting efficiency and the beam loss induces a high level of radio-activation, creating problems for the hands-on maintenance of nearby accelerator equipment. The project will focus on conceptual design studies of new splitting concepts to improve the efficiency of the process and will rely on the application of linear beam optics simulations of the transfer line, coupled with scattering routines to help understand the relative splitting efficiency of the different techniques considered.

Applied physics

Slow extraction studies in the presence of RF noise at the CERN SPS The project shall comprise beam dynamics design studies for slow extraction schemes at the CERN SPS tailored to meet specific experimental requirements and to reduce slow extraction induced radio-activation. The project will focus on implementing RF noise excitation (both longitudinal and transverse) in the existing particle tracking simulation framework. Once implemented the extraction process (spill quality, emittance and extraction efficiency) will be optimised to meet different experimental requests, including a bunched beam extraction containing bunches spaced at several 10’s of MHz. There will be opportunities to apply the research or carry out additional studies at other machines at CERN, such as LEIR and the PS, or other institutes.


Upgrade of a high precision current source The CERN current calibrator is a high precision current source used for the calibration of measurement devices. This project proposes to complete an existing simulation model and use it to propose improvements to the electronics circuit, build and test prototypes. An update design of the magnetic circuit is also part of the project, if time allows.

IT, mathematics and robotics 

Event-Based Data Collection and Analysis Service for CERN Accelerators

The Post Mortem (PM) service is a critical component for the operation of CERNs accelerator complex. It provides a common infrastructure for all accelerator systems to store and analyse relevant equipment and beam data, collected upon specific events like a beam transfer or a dump. The PM service is composed of multiple tiers, starting with the collection of data from various kinds of hardware systems composing the accelerators. The data is then aggregated by event-builders into meaningful bundles, representative for the state of the accelerator upon an event. Subsequent analysis tools provide concise reports of the state of the machine to experts and operation crews to assist in the operation and restart of the machines. The collected data is persisted within Hadoop and available for custom analysis with Spark, Jupyter or any other tool via a REST API. A lightweight Web client allows for browsing and convenient access to data. Foreseen improvements to which you will contribute encompass implementing a load balancing strategy for the data collection layer, extensions of the Web UIs, to complete the analysis suite with Spark, and implement horizontal scalability of the service to dynamically accommodate peak loads. 

The project is carried out being part of a team of young software engineers, implementing a Kanban process and applying XP practices. The project relies heavily on Java, the Spring Framework, Gradle, Angular and TypeScript. It is tightly integrated with other accelerator services based on Kafka and Spark. 


IT, mathematics and robotics 

Machine Protection Supervision Systems for the Accelerators

Machine Protection systems are diverse ecosystems composed of numerous interdependent elements such as quench detection and machine interlock systems that are deployed across the accelerator chain. The monitoring and reliable operation of these systems relies on deported C++ Real-Time processes interacting with the hardware devices, as well as high level Java software applications performing data analysis and providing the necessary controls and visualisation interfaces to both the operation and expert crews. 
Python tooling supports the development of the hardware devices by offering simple, low level diagnostic and rapid application development (RAD) for initial prototyping phases.
A thin C++ layer provides raw data from the hardware devices to an intermediate data processing layer based on Java Reactive Streams, which produces intelligible domain data that experts as well as automated tools can consume. Typically, supervision JavaFX GUIs are built on top of these streams. Foreseen improvements to which the successful candidate will contribute encompass the renovation of said C++ layer, the development of reusable Python components and related DevOps processes, and the migration from JavaFX to lightweight Web clients based on Angular and TypeScript. The project is carried out being part of a team of young software engineers, implementing a Kanban process and applying XP practices. The project relies heavily on Java, the Spring Framework, Gradle, Python and C++.


Mechanical engineering 

Thermal and structural analysis of cryostats for HL-LHC magnets New magnets cryostats for HL-LHC are being designed taking into account challenging requirements on thermal performance and alignment stability. You will integrate the design team performing mechanical and thermal analysis of the cryostat assemblies to assess structural and thermal performance throughout all stages of the life cycle. Handling, transport, interconnection loads, cooldown and warmup, as well as dynamic behaviour in presence of vibrations shall be analysed. Ansys finite element code will be used on a regular basis, combined with analytical calculations and tests on prototypes.

IT, mathematics and robotics 

Development of a Web Front-End for Defining, Managing and Configuring CERN's Power Converters

The Electrical Power Converter (EPC) group of the Technology (TE) department currently faces a challenging consolidation process which involves the replacement and upgrade of control electronics and converters across different accelerators over the coming years. Each new converter type needs to be defined and each instance installed requires configuration data to correctly parametrise the control electronics and software. 
The goal of this project is to develop the front-end of the so-called Property and System Manager web applications. These applications aim to ease the described process by improving its maintainability and thereby allow the Power Converter Experts to maintain the systems themselves without the need of a middle-man, currently played by the Converter Controls Software (CCS) section. This will ultimately reduce the turnaround time, accelerate the process and reduce the overhead of CCS.

You will be responsible for UI development and will collaborate with the back-end developer who will guide and supervise her/him.
This will include, among others, the following tasks:

• Analyse and ensure the technical feasibility of the user interface design

• User experience design and testing, including prototyping and communicating with stakeholders

• Implementation of the web application interface

• Ensure usability, speed and scalability of the interface

• Collaborate with the back-end developer and discuss different software approaches and solutions.


Mechanical engineering 

Cooling upgrade for CMS You will be involved in the on-detector cooling circuitry design and validation for all new water-cooled sub-detectors of CMS, one of the flagship particle detectors at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. You will provide engineering support to the sub-detector experts in the qualification and acceptance tests of the new systems, supervising the on-site activities related to water cooling circuit modification and upgrade. Under the supervision of the CMS Integration Office, he/she will take part in the design, procurement and installation of the new manifolding systems to distribute fluids to the detector.

Mechanical engineering 

CMS Tracker Integration Facility upgrade Under the supervision of the Engineer responsible, you will make major contributions to the CMS Tracker Integration Facility (TIF) upgrade. The TIF has been built for the construction and testing of CMS Ph0 Tracker. In the recent past it has been equipped with a CO2 cooling plant designed and built as the prototype for the CMS Pixel Phase 1 upgrade cooling system. It has been installed and intensively tested from 2012 to 2014 (leading to the successful start-up of the final system early 2017) and later used for the CMS Pixel Ph1 upgrade detector assembly and testing. As the cooling needs for the CMS Tracker Ph2 upgrade are more demanding than the Phase I Pixel ones, (lower operating temperature), the CO2 TIF cooling plant (and its primary chiller) will need to be upgraded. You will assist the Engineer in charge of this upgrade in the organization and coordination of the activities of the different contractors and CERN services that will be involved in the upgrade project. You will also participate in the design, procurement and installation of the new CO2 distribution system needed inside the cooling plant.

Mechanical engineering 

3D drawings for the gas systems of detectors at the LHC experiments

You will join the team in the EP-DT-FS section responsible for the maintenance, operation and developments of the gas systems for the LHC experiments. You will work on 3D modelling and production of 2D construction drawings in CATIA V5 and will use Smarteam for the design lifecycle management. You will have the opportunity to learn about Catia (CAD (computer aided design) design software) and related tools for documenting systems for production phase.


Applied physics 

Development of gas systems and gas recuperation plants for particle detectors at the LHC experiments

You will join the team in the EP-DT-FS section responsible for the maintenance, operation and developments of the gas systems for the LHC experiments. You will work on laboratory setups used to simulate the operation of gas systems for the LHC experiments and R&D on gas systems for different particle detector technologies. You will be involved in commissioning and operation of small prototype gas systems as well as real size gas system for particle detectors at LHC experiments. The activities will focus on hardware and the software aspects.  You will have the possibility to contribute to research studies at the Gamma Irradiation Facility (GIF++) focused on investigation of different aspects of gas system operation, gas recuperation and their possible effect on detector performance. You will learn about gas analysis (O2, H2O, gas chromatography mass spectrometry, ...).


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