Matteo Sbroscia During the summer I completed an 8 week placement at MIT. Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been ranked 1st university in the world this year (2014): it has a history of accomplishments that has established its role in the advancement of science and it continues to stand out as one of the most exciting centres of scientific research in the world. As a consequence, it attracts scientists from all over the world who represent the very best of their countries’ academic excellence.

My contribution to the research was beneficial both to the group and to myself, as it offered me the chance to experience real life research in a practical aspect of physics, which will undoubtedly help me make my future career choice.

(The placement) offered me the chance to experience real life research in a practical aspect of physics, which will undoubtedly help me make my future career choice"

The focus of my studies is mainly theoretical, as I am pursuing a degree in Theoretical Physics, which is what motivated me to undertake a summer internship in experimental physics.  It strengthened and refined my practical skills in handling technical equipment, which is a fundamental aspect of science that can sometimes be overshadowed by the mathematics and the formulae: theory would be pure speculation if there were no experimental devices able to test it. I am now very competent in using various kinds of data analysis software, also employed in several other fields of science, which I will almost certainly get to use again.

The research group held two weekly meetings: these trained me in summarising the progress that had been made and explaining it to an audience unfamiliar with the specifics of my experiment, in order for others to make suggestions on how to tackle any problems. They also allowed me to reflect upon other people’s difficulties, whilst becoming acquainted with what everyone was working on. These meetings gave me insight into how real world physics research is carried out. At the end of my stay, I wrote a report detailing the research I carried out and I gave a power point presentation summarising the main results obtained: these enhanced my oral and written skills in presenting scientific work to an expert audience.

I had the privilege of working in an international environment, with nearly 10 different nationalities in my group alone: discussion about everyone’s habits and culture was a very enriching experience, and one which resulted in a friendly rivalry during the Football World Cup matches that we watched together.  Our hall of residence was also rich in cultural diversity: there were 10 nationalities within our exchange group, plus American students enrolled at MIT with whom we socialised and discussed.