Students visit one of the world’s largest centres for scientific research

Students from West Lothian College travelled to Switzerland to see one of the world’s largest centres for scientific research.

Eleven HND Mechanical and HND Systems students, along with lecturers Tomasz Sliwinski and Wojciech Chojnacki, flew from Edinburgh to Geneva to visit CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) or European Council for Nuclear Research.

Founded in 1952 with the goal of establishing a world-class fundamental physics research organisation in Europe, CERN is where international scientists conduct research on the origins of the universe and subatomic particles, as well as being home of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)- the most powerful particle accelerator in the world.

Students also got the chance to visit Gorges Du Fier, near Annecy, and took a walk on a suspended walkway over the Fier river which is known as one of the most ‘magnificent examples’ of water erosion. Here, they observed structural engineering on a large scale.

Wojciech Chojnacki, lecturer at West Lothian College, said: “The main purpose of the trip was to go and visit the CERN. It was very interesting to see Atlas Control Room and Synchrocyclotron, where we were told how to accelerate elementary particles, up to 80 per cent of the speed of light. It was all very clever stuff.

“On top of this, we went on a few other activities around Geneva- we visited the Patek Philippe Museum, the Street Food market, and general sightseeing of the city, like the Geneva Lake.

“The Patek Philippe Museum aligned with some of the engineering topics that we deliver at the college, and we got to see the traditional equipment and tooling that they used in watch making, dating back to the 19th century.

“That in itself was absolutely amazing- the students have been operating with metal, whereas in the museum, everything was wooden machinery that was used to make tiny components. It was a different level of manufacturing- the watches at the museum are masterpieces of craftsmanship. The highest level I have ever seen. It was a brilliant trip, and everyone enjoyed their time in Geneva.”

Margaret Stafford, Learning and Skills Manager, added: “The objective of the trip was to give our students an insight into one of the biggest engineering and science centres in the world.

“We always try to motivate our students and show them that the world is their oyster- I think that this trip helped them to understand that where ever they work within their chosen field, it can, and will have an impact on how the world of engineering is shaped, and how it continues to progress.

“There are a lot of technologies which are currently being used at CERN that our students can relate to, such as electro magnetism, thermofluids, statics and strength of materials, materials selection, and engineering design. These are just some of the areas that students can see how the knowledge is put into practice.”