RTU Center of High Energy Physics and Accelerator Technologies
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RTU Center of High Energy Physics and Accelerator Technologies

Education and Outreach Activities

Education and Outreach Activities

The Riga Technical University Rector with Engineering College pupils visits CERN, 31.10.2016.
Photo: CERN

Recognising the value and significance of targeted educational and outreach initiatives, Latvia is greatly benefiting from the multitude of opportunities kindly provided by CERN. This includes activities both in Latvia and at CERN. In the future, Latvia is considering to also contribute to the CERN Science Gateway project.

Short-term student visits to CERN 

Annually, since 2013, a group of around 20 doctoral students from RTU and other Latvian universities have been coming to CERN for an educational and motivation study trip. Lately, master-classes on the topic of high-energy physics have been included in this programme as well. This provides an excellent opportunity for the best students of CERN-related engineering and fundamental sciences fields to learn directly about CERN and its groups and activities. On many occasions, direct synergies with the domestic research work have been identified and links made between the home institutions and the CERN-based experiments or research groups.

Until now, these trips have been directly sponsored by RTU and graciously supported by CERN and its staff. Starting from 2020, targeted state funding shall be provided for these annual doctoral visits. 

In the scope of the activities of the Junior Achievement Latvia organisation, annually over the last three years, a group of 5-6 pupils, so called Shadows have been visiting CERN to follow the daily work of the Latvian scientists at CERN. The travel and the stay at CERN of the shadows are directly sponsored by Latvian businesses, keen to promote CERN ideas and to motivate the youth in Latvia to choose STEM-related paths in their future studies. 

Participation in the CERN Summer Student Programme

Starting from 2013, talented UL and RTU students from Latvia are taking part in the CERN Summer Student Programme. Ordinarily, one or two students come to CERN and are integrated within a carefully chosen CERN Group. These are usually masters’ students, studying physics, engineering or computing sciences. Latvia and CERN reciprocally are covering their expenses. Selection of these students is entrusted to the national CERN contact point and is done jointly by the relevant representatives of the applicant universities. As from 2020, an annual support for two Latvian students is foreseen and shall be covered by the aforementioned capacity building measures.

Physics teachers programme

Latvian Physics Teachers programme has been up and running since 2016. Around 80 Latvian physics teachers have benefited for the experience of the CERN Physics Teachers programme. In the recent years, this has grown into the CERN Baltic Physics Teachers, which is fully aligned with the overall CBG objectives and philosophy of the development of the physics and high-energy physics community in the Baltic region. This activity has been co-sponsored by RTU and the MoES. Furthermore, several bright Latvian physics teachers also participated in the International High School Teacher Programme organised at CERN.

Schools, conferences and workshops 

In April 2018, the 5th CERN Spring Campus was successfully organised and very well attended in Riga. This CERN Campus was of a series of schools dedicated to Information Technology and Computing. Over 4 intensive days, event brought together experts from around CERN to meet with future engineers and scientists in a program of scientific and technological dissemination and cultural exchange. Target audience was primarily final year BSc students and MSc students in the field of Computer Science or related, who wanted to know more about the latest technologies and industry trends in IT. More about Spring Campus.

Latvian students and young scientists have been actively participating in various CERN related activities:

  • Viesturs Veckalns (RTU) has been involved in the CMS experiment researching top quarks since 2014;
  • Stepans Škļariks (RTU) was the first Latvian participant at the CERN Summer School in 2015 where he was analyzing thermal functions of collimators;
  • Artūrs Ivanovs (RTU) had a scientific internship in 2017 working on energy-efficient solutions for the LHC’s train inspection monorail robot;
  • Andris P. Stikuts (UL) participated at the CERN Summer School in 2017 where he worked in the Compact Linear Collider team simulating and analyzing electron-positron collisions;
  • Artūrs Vēvers (RTU) specialized in optimization of 3D printing processes at the CERN Summer School in 2017, being part of the Engineering Department - Mechanical & Materials Engineering Group.

CERN in Latvia

In May 2018 RTU hosted the 1st ARIES project annual meeting, which brought together more than 100 representatives of the accelerator community. Several workshops and specialist discussions were organised in the margins of that meeting. 

In June 2019, with support of CERN, the European Physics Olympiad (EuPhO) was hosted by UL in Riga - a contest for high school students. In addition to the International Physics Olympiad, traditions of regional competitions such as Asian Physics Olympiad and Ibero-American Physics Olympiad have been organised. The concept of EuPhO is similar to real research situations, with brief problem description and plenty of space for creative solutions. Prominent physicists honoured this event by their presence and talks. 

In the framework of the CERN Baltic Group, RTU is organising Baltic School of High Energy Physics and Accelerator Technologies in August 2020. It granted the EU COST action funding and will host prominent lectures and will cover variety of the high-energy physics topics. 

In May 2018, landmark traveling exhibition «CERN – Accelerating Science» was inaugurated at the National Library of Latvia by the Prime Minister, at the time, Māris Kučinskis in the presence of the Minister of Education and Science Kārlis Šadurskis and the management of Latvian universities and, of course, CERN. Numerous visits for school pupils, students and general public were organised. This exhibition was very well attended and received by the public and its very symbolic presence at the National Library of Latvia, which was a remarkable achievement for the Latvia-CERN collaboration. Importantly, this CERN exhibition was part of the official Latvia's Centenary celebration programme.

Latvia was greatly benefiting from the opportunities of CERN Virtual Visits. These were organised on several occasion for different levels of audience in Latvia, including translations to the regional schools during the high-level visits to CERN. Interactive lectures from the CMS cavern were provided on several occasions covering hundreds of participants from the Latvian regional schools.

High-Energy Physics, scientific and engineering thematic of CERN over the years were covered by numerous media of Latvia. Latvian press and media representatives (e.g. State Radio, State Televisions and commercial media) were regularly visiting CERN. Interviews with the CERN management, scientist and Latvian researchers were recorded and broadcasted in Latvia by the major media platforms. This was well received by the general public and today we can say that Latvian society is rather well informed about CERN work, its objectives and role of Latvia at CERN. Written press is also actively covering CERN related topics publishing interviews with CERN and Latvian scientists in journals, newspapers and web-based media. 

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