Using a justly won Shakhmardan Yessenov Foundation’s grant, a future physicist and currently student of Nazarbayev University, Ayan spent the months of June, July and August of 2016 at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) undertaking his scientific research.
1. Why physics?
Until the second year of University, I was not completely sure that I wanted to do physics. Initially my choice was driven by the fact that of all the options I was considering at the time, physics seemed the most interesting. I knew that learning physics opens up many opportunities and knowledge that will be helpful: programming skills, big data analysis, working with elements of electronics and knowledge in chemistry and mathematics. The more I learned, the more I started to like this branch of science. Physics combines both the fundamental knowledge and its practical application. Physics allows you to work in any field of scholarly endeavors, and I certainly was drawn to this opportunity.
2. What was the most challenging part of the grant competition for you?
Writing the essay. Specifically, to express my thoughts in writing. But this challenge later helped me in writing an essay to enroll to PhD. So I’d say it’s an excellent opportunity to practice writing such essays, because it is an indispensable skill to be able to define your strong points and demonstrate you commitment to your goals to prove why you deserve to win.
3. Do tell us more about the internship itself?
Fermilab is an advanced research centre in physics of high energies and one could say it’s the predecessor of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland. I worked on a SLICKTRACK software during my internship in the US. It simulates the processes that occur in colliders. In fact, the program shows how different optical processes influence particles in the collider. My task was to rewrite a code that would allow solving all problems caused by the old code. I was able to accomplish the goal on time in three months. My colleagues from the lab tested the program and made necessary modifications to the code. I wish I could have tested the code myself.
4. What have you achieved by participating in this internship?
The work took much longer than I expected. But the result – a program that works – allowed the laboratory to move on with the project. This internship helped me in mastering the computer physics. Now I know much more about the physics of accelerators, too. This gained knowledge is helping me right now to work on a project in the field of high-energy physics. Rewriting the code honed my programming skills, and the internship in general has dramatically increased my chance to get into a PhD program. In addition to improving my professional skills, I got a positive personal experience from staying in the lab and meeting new people and students just like myself. There were various social events at the lab all the time, for example, Italian festival or Brazilian barbecue. By the way, Brazilians love meat almost as much as we do here in Kazakhstan, and I cannot but admit the BBQ was excellent. Also, I had the opportunity to visit Chicago, which was mere an hour and a half travel by train. I went to the legendary Guns N’ Roses concert, which I used to love listening to.
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