Faculty and graduate students from each of the member institutions of the project have been working with the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) collaboration composed of more than 2,000 physicists from over 35 countries. CMS is researching seminal questions of our time. Questions such as the origin of mass, whether there might be more to the Standard Model of Particle Physics, whether there is a whole new class of supersymmetric particles, the possibility of the existence of extra dimensions and much more. The CMS collaboration expects to take data for several years and then upgrade the detector to take data for several more.
The PIRE program is a five-year project which began in October 2007. The project has three primary aims:
- To study silicon pixel detectors and their associated electronics in order to commission and upgrade the present detector of the CMS collaboration located in Switzerland.
- To provide an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students from the partner institutions to enroll in classes at ETH (semester/year) and to participate in laboratory research in Switzerland and at their home institutions (summer/semester/year).
- To advance the infrastructure for science students to participate in study abroad activities at all institutions.
Starting in January 2008 , undergraduate and graduate students from any partner institution can participate in the program in a given year. Those students enrolling at ETH will be expected to take upper level physics courses in English or German, other technical courses, as well as German language instruction. Research is conducted at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) located in Villigen. Two postdoctoral researchers, one from University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL) and one from Kansas University (KU), are located at PSI and charged with, both, to conduct research and supervise all participating students in Switzerland.