Yara Al-Quorashy

At CERN: 2019 Summer Student

Today: MSc degree in Computing Science at the University of Glasgow, Glasgow

OAR: When did you come to CERN as a Summer Student and what did you work on?

Yara: June 16th, 2019, I was working at the LHCb experiment. As part of the project proposals regarding the LHCb upgrade in 2021, the LHCb collaboration was investigating the possibility to perform partial data processing in the Event Builder nodes. The need of feeding the data into the Track Processor Unit (TPU) set as well as sending it to the Event Builder encouraged the team to find a suitable algorithm, given the basic constraint which is to avoid modifying the Event Builder software. As a result, we were inspired to work on the device driver on the low level, properly synchronizing the data transfer among the Event Builder and the TPU. I worked under the supervision of Dr. Riccardo Fantechi to mainly simulate the communication between the different peripherals involved in this proposal and I contributed to the driver code.

OAR: What is your best memory of working at CERN?

Yara: I can't wrap all the amazing memories I made in this wonderful place in just one favourite memory. Every day was unique and every person I met there engraved a beautiful memory in my mind. However, I would say it is the moment I stepped foot into CERN on my first day and started processing all those feelings of excitement, stress, and eagerness to meet everyone. It was the moment I realized that the best experience of my life was about to begin and there was so much to look forward to.

OAR: What are you currently doing and where are you located?

Yara: I am currently pursuing my MSc degree in Computing Science at the University of Glasgow. I finished my exams and will start working on my thesis in two weeks! I am currently in Glasgow, Scotland.

OAR: What skills did you develop during your CERN Summer Student experience that have been particularly useful in your subsequent career trajectory?

Yara: I would say persistence, patience, and the ability to ask questions openly and I owe this to my supervisor, Dr. Riccardo Fantechi. I deeply developed my understanding of the C language which was particularly helpful in one of my courses in my Master's program. I was able to relate to the course material on a deeper level and grasp the concepts more holistically. I also think I developed the ability to accept so many different views and backgrounds to a great extent, and the ability to communicate my own views in a neutral way. This helped me immensely when I joined the University of Glasgow where I've met people from all around the world and we were mutually interested in learning about our cultures. It also helped me in my teamwork skills when it came to working with people from different backgrounds.

OAR: What skills did you need to develop further when you left CERN to face your next challenge?

Yara: Mainly, it would be my technical skills. Coming from a Computer Engineering background has proved to be challenging during my master's classes, as there were many experienced programmers who knew a lot more than I did, so in the beginning, I felt like I was not making the most out of the opportunity when it came to certain topics. However, I've been filling those gaps with studying and talking to students who are more advanced in order to learn more about the field and what I want to do next!

OAR: Would you recommend the CERN Summer Student programme to other people?

Yara: Without a shadow of doubt, yes! This experience taught me a lot on a personal and professional level. It made me realize many things about myself and the people around me in such a short time. This experience was intellectually and socially stimulating, incredibly eye-opening, and showed me the world through the eyes of each and every person I met there.

OAR: What advice would you give your younger self?

Yara: As cliched as it sounds, to seize every opportunity that knocks your door. Every little decision I make right now will slowly build up to the experiences in the future, so I'd tell my younger self to explore all the opportunities out there, to pursue everything in life out of passion and not what is expected of her, and to never doubt herself!

OAR: Do you still follow up on what’s going on at CERN?

Yara: I've been following CERN on all social media platforms; LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. The latest panoramic video of CERN made me so feel so nostalgic!

OAR: In your opinion, what is the unique value of the CERN Alumni Network?

Yara: The diversity and mutual respect. During my experience at CERN, I was amazed how my office of more than five nationalities managed to communicate very effectively and work together towards one goal. The network shares these same values of diversity and mutual respect.

OAR: What is your proudest achievement?

Yara: At CERN? Making the most out of every single day; working on the project, exploring the city, making new friends, and taking all the lessons learned and memories onto my next challenge. Right now? Sitting for 7 online exams this May while the world is fighting a pandemic and while I'm away from my family! Never saw that coming!

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