From atoms to computers

This pre-university week offers high school students the opportunity to discover scientific programming and modelling of materials during their immersion at EPFL.

Materials are at the very heart of our society’s greatest challenges, from the production and storage of clean energy to water purification, or from safe and sustainable management of transport to environmental protection. Computer simulations reveal the behavior of matter at the atomic scale and are therefore increasingly used in the development of better materials in order to meet such challenges.

The participants will follow courses, take part in practical exercises, and enjoy visits of EPFL labs and installations on campus. Starting from the basics, they will learn about cutting-edge simulation techniques, including molecular dynamics, cellular automata and machine learning. Scientists will guide them in the execution of simple projects related to modelling of materials.

Simulation de la croissance d'un cristal de glace
Simulation of the growth of a frost crystal. Frost on the window of a plane.


Practical information

Where and when
June 24-28, 2024 at EPFL (Lausanne)
The exact times have not yet been determined, but the activities will take place in a time frame from 9:00 to 17:00; a detailed program with the final schedule will be sent to the participants
High school students one year before graduating

Half of the places are reserved for girls
No prerequisites related to specific option or mathematics level. Prior basic knowledge in programming is recommended. These basics can be acquired independently if necessary (further information below)
Computer provided by EPFL
CHF 50.- (excl. VAT).
Lunch on the first day will be provided. Lunch on the other days and any accommodation costs are at the charge of the participants.
There are still a few places left for girls, online registration as soon as possible by clicking on this link. Waiting list for boys.

Each student may register for one pre-university week per school year.
Exceptions may be considered if sufficient places are available.
Please contact [email protected] for any question

Background knowledge

The following basic knowledge in programming is recommended for participation in the camp: variables and assignments, basic operations (arithmetic, logical and comparison), loops and conditions. Interested high school students can acquire this knowledge on their own in just a few hours (half a day) by taking parts 1.21.3 and 2.12.2 of the course Apprenez les bases du langage Python (the rest of part 1 will be discussed during the week).

The camp is sponsored by NCCR MARVEL, where researchers design and discover new materials through quantum simulations. In other words, they resolve fundamental equations in physics by using supercomputers before even doing anything in a lab.

The National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs) are a funding scheme of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Logo Pole National de Recherche MARVEL

In addition: