My experiences from the CERN openlab Summer Student Programme 2017

Hello everyone,

Now I am back in Norway, and it is time for looking back and reminisce about my amazing
and memorable summer at CERN. So, today I will tell you about my experiences from my
Summer Internship.

I got the happy message that I was selected for this years CERN openlab Summer Student
Programme in April, while eating some Korean BBQ on excursion in South Korea with my
Informatics classmates from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
My classmates and I knew very well that CERN was a highly prestigious research center. I
did not expect to be selected, so, I got very surprised and excited when I got the email saying
that my application was successful.

My first encounter with the name CERN was during my childhood, when my father was telling
stories around the dinner table about his work at CERN. He was a Physics Summer Student
at CERN in 1986 and afterwards he worked at CERN on the DELPHI project in relation to his
PhD in Physics. My father was always speaking about his summer at CERN with so much
joy and excitement. I was inspired by my father's stories about this fascinating place, and
ever since then it was a dream of mine to some day get the opportunity to work at CERN
myself.

So, you might understand that I was very excited about the upcoming summer, but I were
also quite nervous. The fact that I was going to a foreign country, not knowing a single soul
and working alongside (what I consider as) genius researchers for 9 weeks, were honestly a
scary thought in the start. But of course, this was also what made it extra thrilling and
exciting. It turned out to be one of the best experiences and summers of my life!
 

My experiences from the programme

In the programme we were 37 CERN openlab Summer Students from 22 different countries.
All of us were living together in an apartment hostel in the town of St. Genis Pouilly in France
right across the border from Switzerland. During the 9 weeks, we became nearly like a family
and got inside jokes, funny memories and experiences together. We shared stories about the
interesting people, the miraculously always sunny weather, the swims in the lakes and the
outdoor swimming pools, and the cool trips to nearby cities and countryside.

Every morning we were biking together over to Switzerland on our CERN bikes, and we were
meeting up for lunch and had BBQs, played football and made amazing spicy Indian food in
our spare time. We also had some fantastic weekend trips, travelling around in Switzerland,
France and Italy. For instance enjoying the Jazz Festival in Montreux, and visiting the
Gruyere Cheese - and the Cailler Chocolate Factory. During the summer I got a renewed
interest for hiking, thanks to all the beautiful hikes in Interlaken, the Jura Mountains and hikes
with views of the Mont Blanc in Chamonix! This is just a few of the nice memories from the
summer, but what I want to highlight from the stay is the cool and unique opportunity to get
new friends and colleagues from all across the world and learn about their lives and cultures.
 

As you may understand from this, the CERN openlab Summer Student Programme is so
much more than just a normal summer job. During the summer there were also arranged
BBQs for the summer students by the IT-department, and we got the opportunity to visit the
CERN experiments and accelerators. For instance we got to visit ATLAS and the Compact
Muon Solenoid (CMS), which are detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). We also
were very lucky to go to Zurich to visit Open Systems, ETH and last but not least, Google. It
was a very interesting and exciting experience!
 

 

My CERN openlab Summer Student Project

But now over to the technical part of the programme.
During the programme I was working in the IT-DB-IMS group which is the Information
Technologies and Database Department at CERN. The objective of my project was to
refactor an application called the DB Rota Tool, which is a web application for scheduling the
support activities for the CERN IT-DB-IMS group. It is based in a technology called Oracle
APEX or Oracle Application Express. As the name states, it is a technology that allows you
to develop applications quickly. But it has some disadvantages, for example that it is highly
tightened to the database and it is not modular.

The main goal of my project was to make a new web application by improving the user
experience, and make it modular, portable and open to extensions. The project is based on a
collaboration between CERN openlab and Oracle. Therefore, the project focused on testing,
evaluation and providing feedback about some of the latest Oracle technologies and
frameworks, as well as contribute to the Oracle Community.

In my project I was developing the new web application using Oracle Jet and Oracle ORDS.
Oracle Jet stands for Oracle JavaScript Extension Toolkit, and it is an open source
JavaScript framework which is very good for developing hybrid applications (Oracle 2017).
The Oracle ORDS stands for Oracle Rest Data Services and it is a java application that
maps HTTP verbs to database transactions.
 

 

When we put the two technologies together we see that they are quite easily combined and
they have many advantages as shown in the figure below (See Figure 2). The Oracle Jet is
open source and it makes your application modular, portable and open to extensions (Oracle
2017). The Oracle ORDS is simple and it allows you to expose a rest API with nearly zero
code (Oracle 2017).
 

 

An extra challenging and interesting part about the project, was that the framework Oracle Jet
is not the most widely used. This meant that it was not very easy to find answers to issues
through for example stack overflow. If you search for Oracle Jet in stack overflow you get 188
results and if you search for Angular you get 66000. We figured out that the best place to find
answers to our questions, were in the Oracle Jet Community Forums and in the Oracle Jet
Documentation. The people in the Oracle Jet Community were very helpful and responded
quickly.

Another nice place to find tips and tricks for making your first Oracle Jet application was the
Oracle Jet MOOC, which stands for Massive Open Online Course. It was a good site to start
to learn about the framework and its features. Throughout the project we focused on providing
feedback and contribute in the Oracle Community, and it allowed us to test, evaluate and learn
about many different Oracle Technologies.

The programme has given me new and valuable experiences and knowledge from full cycle
web development with both analyzing and getting the user requirements, as well as
development, testing, security, continuous integration and deployment. I also got to attend
interesting and relevant IT lectures given by experts in their fields, as well as giving presentations
about my project in a 5 minutes long CERN openlab Summer Student Lightning Talk, and a 20
minutes long presentation for the IT-DB group. It was a nice and interesting learning experience
to hold technical presentations for large groups of people!

If you are interested in more details about my project, you can take a look at my CERN openlab
Summer Student Report at: https://zenodo.org/record/1034094

 

TO SUM UP

To end, I want to express my sincere thanks to my supervisor Luis Rodríguez Fernández and
the IT-DB-IMS team for giving me helpful tips and insights on my project, and making me feel
very welcome during my two months as a Summer Student at CERN. As well I want to thank
CERN openlab and Oracle for giving me the opportunity to join the international environment
at CERN, and work on interesting and challenging topics.

I have gotten valuable experiences and knowledge that I can use in my future studies and
career. The programme have also given me many good memories and friends from all
around the world. I am very grateful for the opportunity and I truly recommend it for others!
The programme exceeded all my expectations, and it has been an amazing and memorable
summer!

 

 

If you have any questions or comments about the project or about my experiences from the
programme, feel free to send me an email. I will be happy to answer!

E-mail: rebekka.alvsvag@gmail.com

Cheers,
Rebekka Alvsvåg

 

References:

1. Rebekka Alvsvåg. Oracle Resftul Data Services & Oracle JET, https://zenodo.org/record/1034094

2. Oracle (2017). "What is JET?". Retrieved 05.09.2017, from
http://www.oracle.com/webfolder/technetwork/jet/index.html. 

3. Oracle (2017). "Oracle JET Online Training Course." Retrieved 05.09.2017, from
http://www.oracle.com/webfolder/technetwork/jet/globalExamples-Course.html.

4. Oracle (2017). "Oracle ORDS Logo." Retrieved 09.08.2017, from
http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/developer-tools/rest-data-services/dat...
2373780.png.

5. Oracle (2017). "Oracle REST Data Services." Retrieved 05.09.2017, from

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/developer-tools/rest-data-
services/overview/index.html.

6. Oracle (2017). "Oracle JET Logo." Retrieved 09.08.2017, from
https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/656652222512521216/kj3zG0jH.png.

7. Purcell, A. R. (07-07-2017 ). "CERN openlab summer students 2017 group photo."
Retrieved 11.09.2017, from https://cds.cern.ch/record/2274930.

8.  "Photo, Oracle Jet Plane." Retrieved 08.08.2017, from https://www.tmns.com/wp-
content/uploads/2016/03/Oracle-JET-and-Oracle-Mobile-Cloud.jpg
 

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