Team for the Future of NICA 2021 internship

Media, 15 September 2021

This summer, the 5th flow of the Team for the Future of NICA (TeFeNICA) internship program was finished. The cornerstone of this program was set during the NICA Days 2015 conference. During this event, JINR Scientific Leader Academician V. A. Matveev and Vice-Rector for Research of the Warsaw University of Technology (WUT) professor Rajmund Bacewicz signed the agreement on cooperation between JINR and WUT.

Two years later, in 2017, the amendment to this agreement was signed. This amendment concerned the internship program TeFeNICA. From that moment, more than 100 students have taken part in the internship. One of the project’s founding fathers was the late Marek Peryt, head of the Engineering Support Sector and the person who helped the students in every possible way to come to Dubna. The renown of the program and the amount of unique and challenging projects encouraged students from WUT to participate even in the remote form of the internship in the year 2020.

From left, Deputy Director of VBLHEP Adam Kisiel, Director of the VBLHEP Richard Lednický, head of the Engineering Support for the MPD Installation Sector Krystian Rosłon, supervisors Filip Protoklitow and Maciej Czarnynoga, Vice-Director of JINR Vladimir D. Kekelidze, student Krzysztof Sawicki during the visit to the Laboratory 118, bld. 201 of VBLHEP on 26th of August 2021. Photo credit: Igor Lapenko.

This year, some rules have changed because of the new person responsible for the program and the need to evolve the program. Starting from 2020, the topics have become more sophisticated, resulting in a stricter selection of students. As a result, this year, there were interviews with the students who registered for the internship for the first time. During the interviews, the acting head of the Engineering Support for the MPD Installation Sector – Krystian Rosłon, deliberately verified the candidates’ knowledge about JINR, general technical knowledge, self-presentation abilities, and English language level. Furthermore, all applicants needed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have a proven recovery record from COVID-19 in the last six months. In the end, out of the 30 people that registered the 16 were accepted.

Following this, the students chose five topics that they were interested in based on their descriptions. Later on, after the thorough discussions, the projects were distributed according to the students’ skills. By doing so, the supervisors were sure that the students and their tasks were almost a perfect match. After the interviews, the lists of the projects and the supervisors for each project were sent. Because of it, the students were able to better prepare for the tasks were required to complete when they arrive at JINR. Also, the communication between the practitioners and their supervisors started few weeks before their arrival.

Furthermore, a considerable change in comparison with the previous years was their accommodation. As the last students were leaving Dubna in 2019, the renovation of the Hotel Grill from the inside had been started. This year’s guests had the incredible opportunity to be among the firsts guests in the newly renovated hotel. As we gathered the feedback from the students about their accommodation, they were expecting a relatively high standard since they knew that they would be living in a hotel. However, the standard of the hotel exceeded their expectations.

Because of the possibility to match the student’s skills and preferences with the topics, the topics were more specialized than in the previous edition. The main themes of this year’s internship were cryogenics, cooling systems, rack equipment, and MPD physics. Also, there were projects connected with the general work of the Engineering Support Sector, such as monitoring the flow of the documents, sensors calibration system, universal cable tester, Programmable Logic Controllers learning station, and thermal measurements station. Due to the primarily engineering works, most of the students were from the Faculty of Mechatronics and the Faculty of Electronics and Information Technology. However, a variety of other faculties had their representatives too.

Most of the students were placed in the laboratory, fully equipped and prepared for the incoming apprentices. The industry-leading technologies and software were part of their everyday work. The participants were able to familiarize themselves with or develop their skills using the Siemens’ Programmable Logic Controllers and TIA Portal, National Instruments MyRIO and LabVIEW, Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD, 3D printing and a variety of slicers for the 3D printers, Equipment Database, and MPD Root.

Despite using professional equipment and software, the students were also involved in more common works, which they had no opportunity to do previously, because of the remote education. Some of the activities were preparing the cables to connect the PLCs, assembling the RACKs with its essential and currently prototyped equipment, preparing the hydraulic circuits, mounting the sensors, soldering, and many more. What is worth mentioning, the students that were assigned to the topics connected with cryogenics were involved in setting up the hardware for the Magnet Flushing Station. The laboratory and workplaces inside it had been equipped with high-quality tools, which allowed the introduction of basic engineering tasks and familiarizing with the more specialized equipment.

What might be particularly interesting, all students finished their project with considerably great results. Some of the students completed their tasks earlier which allowed them to improve their project or be involved in other Sector works. Moreover, eight outstanding students were invited to return to Dubna for a more extended period – at least six months under the TeFeNICA internship program. Four of them agreed to this offer almost immediately and started to prepare the paperwork required to do so. They are eager to continue developing their projects or to create a new, more complex ones because of the more extended period of their stay. The other four students are strongly considering their return to Dubna during the following holidays. One of the biggest obstacles to overcome in inviting the students is arranging the possibility to continue their education. In this matter, JINR University Center has been a great help. By cooperating with this unit of the Institute, during their stay at JINR, students can continue their education without interruptions.

Another essential skill that was required from the students was preparing the technical documentation. Because of the fact that all of the projects will be implemented in the work of the Sector, the proper documentation was crucial. For most of them, it was the first time to prepare such a thing, and it was a challenging task that required some help from the supervisor’s side. Despite the challenge, each student left a comprehensive folder full of technical data, which will be used while implementing their projects.

During their stay in Dubna, students also had an opportunity to take part in the lectures. The lectures started within the first week. Deputy Director of VBLHEP Adam Kisiel gave the first one, and it was about the history of JINR and NICA. A few days later, the Deputy engineer-in-chief of VBLHEP Vladislav Benda, gave a lecture about the liquid helium for the accelerators. Also, members of the Engineering Support Sector gave presentations concerning a variety of topics connected with the everyday work of the Sector.

Later on, in the middle of their stay, the roles changed, and students presented their topics. They were showing the current results and the plans for the following weeks. For some of them, it was the first time that they were taking part in the seminar. Despite this fact, there was a multitude of questions, ideas, and suggestions about each topic. It also allowed them to compare their progress and familiarize themselves with all subjects their colleagues have worked with during the past few weeks.

Also, to widen the students’ knowledge, plenty of excursions were realized in both JINR areas. The students had an opportunity to visit the Superheavy Element Factory and familiarize themselves with the proton therapy. They were given a one-day guided tour around the NICA one day, including Nuclotron, Booster, Ion Source, MPD Hall, and Magnet factory.

When the projects were almost finished, the directorate of the JINR and VBLHEP was invited. The main part of the meeting was to show them around the workplaces and give better insight into the work that has been done. The guests that took part in the tour were Vice-Director of JINR Vladimir D. Kekelidze, Director of the VBLHEP Richard Lednický, and Deputy Director of VBLHEP Adam Kisiel. They managed to listen to each student talk about the project and ask many interesting questions. Also, they were able to see how the engineering background of a variety of systems that will be used in NICA looks like.

The conclusion of the internship was the final presentation given by each student, again in the seminar form. This time the seminar took more time than previously because of the eagerness of the students to thoroughly report their progress and discuss any nuances and applied methods adopted to finish their tasks. Moreover, when the internship was coming to an end, it was time to discuss the possibility of continuing the work in terms of diploma theses. Every year, all participants have the opportunity to write the thesis based on their finished work. In such cases, their supervisors are taking the role of the thesis supervisors or thesis consultants. This time, six students decided to take this opportunity and write the thesis connected with NICA.

To conclude, despite the global pandemic situation and various obstacles that needed to be overcome, this year’s internship was a great success. The students showed their full potential and dedication, and their supervisors took special care of them. What is even more important, everyone is waiting for the students who declared their willingness to come back to continue their work for NICA, which shows the importance of the TeFeNICA internship program. All members of the Engineering Support Sectors have high hopes for the support of the Direction of the Laboratory, which will help to employ the students as full members of the Sector.

We also greatly encourage to follow our social media and website where we frequently post content connected with the internship, events, conferences and everyday life of the Sector.

Filip Protoklitow,
Krystian Rosłon