CERN physicist Leszek Ropelewski, left, shows a collection of detectors to Fermilab Director Pier Oddone, center, and CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer, right, in an EDIT laboratory. Photo: courtesy of CERN.

When I visited CERN two weeks ago Rolf Heuer and I had the opportunity to get a guided tour of the particle detector school EDIT, “Excellence in Detectors and Instrumentation Technologies”. This was quite a remarkable event and is described in yesterday’s issue of Fermilab Today. We are planning to host the school here in the US next. It will be a great deal of work, but also greatly rewarding.

The range of topics at the school was breathtaking:

  1. Basic and advanced electronics;
  2. Photodetectors: principles, performance and limitations;
  3. Detection of scintillation and Cerenkov light from crystals and fibers;
  4. Silicon strip and pixel technologies;
  5. Gaseous detectors: present features and future role; and
  6. Calorimetry: from the basic concepts to the energy flow.

Nearly 90 students were selected from some 250 applicants from industry, national laboratories and academia from many countries. A relatively small number of US students participated, something that we would like to remedy when we conduct the school here.

The school was truly a global collaboration. All the major laboratories and detector collaborations participated by donating the time of the tutors and lending equipment to the school. In all, 110 teachers, experts in particle physics instrumentation, taught the students. For most of the two-week-long intensive course, students had effectively one-on-one tutoring.

One of the problems of modern particle physics is that constructing detectors are major events that do not occur frequently. Often it is hard for graduate students to develop expertise broadly across experimental techniques. If a student is lucky enough to have experience in detector construction, it is most likely that it would be narrow in scope and limited to a single detector technique.

Enter EDIT. In two weeks students progressed from very basic to advanced detector technology in the six areas mentioned above. The experimental set-ups were great, taking the students from very simple fundamental electrical measurements in silicon devices and simple gas detectors to state-of-the-art devices.

One aspect worth pursuing further was the interest from industry in sending their young scientists and engineers to the school. Evidently industries and particle physics have similar problems in giving broad detector experiences to their scientists and engineers. The mixture of students from academia, national laboratories and industry made the school a much richer experience for the students.

Certainly CERN put a lot of effort organizing the school and it showed. We all have a great challenge ahead to continue this excellent EDIT program in the future.