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Which place would students of other universities love to visit but probably never will – unlike Unicorn College students?

How does one join a prestigious international project? How does one get to cooperate with students from Oxford or Cambridge? Read about the inspirational opportunity for all students at Unicorn College!
In 2015, our university joined the implementation of an international project of a large scale via a consortium of cooperating universities in Prague and research institutions. These comprise top workplaces, i.e. FZÚ ČAV (the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences), FJFI ČVUT (the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering at Czech Technical University, Prague), MFF UK (the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University, Prague) and Unicorn College which represents an exclusive contractual developer and supplier of the Product Database (PD) for the ITk upgrade for the ATLAS experiment internal detector in the LHC https://home.cern/about/experiments/atlas at CERN (https://home.cern/about). The internal detector consists of two large parts, basically cylinders, called the “Strip” part and the “Pixel” part.
The research programme with the schedule of activities until 2024 represents a process realized by a team of teachers and students of our university. Unicorn College has already held two international workshops in Prague – one in June 2015 and the other in October 2016. The workshops were attended by many experts working on the new internal detector project, by the project management from CERN, our university staff as well as Unicorn College students. An “open source” strategy was settled at the meetings on the PD proposal.
Several students drew inspiration from their attendance to the workshops for their bachelor theses. So far, two of the theses have been defended (Mr. Šverma, 2015 and Ms. Kalinová, 2016) and four other theses are in various stages of development at the moment. A wide range of tasks related to the work on PD continuously offers topics for bachelor theses to our students. Dealing with such topics, active students can get internships at top foreign institutions and universities. In two years, 4 of our students got a study visit at CERN (repeatedly), the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory during the work on their theses, and other institutions are being prepared for them.
Beside the above mentioned opportunities to participate on the development of PD, our staff and Unicorn College students attend the control week concerning the progress of work at CERN approximately three times a year. Thus, in lectures, they get to report on the achieved results. The participants in the projects have held more than 10 invited lectures since 2015. The texts of the presentations are stored and available in the CERN database of the ITk for the ATLAS experiment or may be provided to those interested at Unicorn College on request.
M. Beránek and V. Kovář (the left image) and L. Sýkora (the right image) during the instruction of seminar participants at the University of Oxford in October 2017
This year, the Unicorn College team realized and participated in two more highly successful events. In mid-October 2017, Unicorn College staff introduced the first prototype of a functional STRIP solution of PD at a three-day seminar at the University of Oxford. They also held the first “ITk PD hands on training” for the Strip community representatives of the ATLAS internal detector, i.e. a large group of physicists from tens of universities and research institutions that deal with the Strip part of the internal detector. Beside three teachers, even a Unicorn College student (Lukáš Sýkora) participated in helping the individual attenders of the workshop – for details see https://www.unicorncollege.cz/en/about-uc/news-archive/2018-02-01-oxford.html.
Our participation at the ITk control week at CERN in November represented another successful event for Unicorn College this year. Marek Beránek and Vladimír Kovář from Unicorn College held a summary presentation on the first version of the product database during the plenary meeting in front of the whole community of the ATLAS experiment internal detector. The presentation met a positive reception and evaluation during the discussion of the topic. Besides the summary presentation, another informative presentation was held for the Strip community and another run of “ITk PD hands on training” took place for the community.
Marek Beránek and Vladimír Kovář at CERN during the ITk week in Novermber 2017
We focused our attention during this event on broadening the discussion with the Pixel community in order to integrate the pixel part of the detector into PD next year. Thus, a meaningful functional complex would emerge for the ATLAS experiment internal detector being constructed.
We’d like to encourage the Unicorn College students with a healthy self-confidence, good language skills and a wish to test themselves against the competition of foreign participating students to contact our Study Department or UC management (dr. Beránek, doc. Vacek) in time. Even you can join the project either by means of your seminar work or bachelor thesis!
doc. Ing. Václav Vacek, CSc.

Our student’s (Lukáš Sýkora) impressions of the visit to the University of Oxford in October 2017

I took part in the Unicorn College event at the University of Oxford attended by representatives of several cooperating universities. We aimed at introducing the application of the product database and proposing joint future steps with regard to the project.
The first day of the meeting, we presented our part of the project. Marek Beránek acquainted the participants with our work and explained the overall concept of the Unicorn Application Framework (UAF) which represents the foundation of the application. One of the main tasks of the first day was to let everyone test the application by means of both the graphic interface and REST calls. After we overcame some minor issues, like unexpectedly overwhelmed internet connection, everyone got connected and we started the test. Each participant could depict, add and edit their own components. I helped everyone to put the Insomnia REST client into operation so that they could test the communication with the app by means of calling individual commands outside the graphic interface. The feedback from the testers represented a vital part of the first day as they are going to become the real users of the app in the future.
The reception of the app was positive with some relevant observations towards adding or modifying some functionalities.
The next day began with a lecture regarding pixels, followed by a discussion of the database model and mainly the necessity to understand it perfectly. The end opened some space for further observations, improvement suggestions and unification of terminology (type vs. flavour).
The OXFORD workshop represented a truly fascinating experience for me and a great opportunity to join such a significant project. Even the premises of the University of Oxford themselves were impressive. The workshop proved definitely contributive. Despite the large amount of information presented during the two days, I think I was able to understand and select the cardinal ideas that are going to be used for the functionalities across the app.
Lukáš Sýkora,
student