During ICPS 2014 in Heidelberg, a group of enthusiastic young physicists founded the Italian Association of Physics Students (Associazione Italiana Studenti di Fisica, AISF in Italian). The idea was ambitious and the task challenging: putting together students from all corners of our Bel Paese to create a strong network of students from many academic and research institutions. It was definitely not easy at first, but the tireless efforts of the founding executive committee allowed to overcome the first bureaucratic hurdles and provide initial momentum for the growth of the society. Less than a year after the foundation, we can say that those efforts have paid off. Today, AISF boasts more than 160 individual members from 15 establishments of higher education, has organised the first Italian Conference of Physics Students (CISF, Turin 16th - 17th May) and has also been a partner of IAPS in the organisation of the successful event at the ENEA and Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy. Several other projects and initiatives have also flourished within AISF and the five active Local Committees are now independently organising their activities.
The first CISF marked an important step for the newborn AISF. It showed that the Association, even though still very young, could brilliantly face and win challenges such as the organisation of a national event, without any external help. It is also quite remarkable that nothing like this had ever taken place in Italy before: it was indeed the first time that Italian physics students could meet on a national basis. The participation of 70 students coming from all over the country shows that it was indeed quite a success. The students enjoyed two days of interesting activities, with a unique chance to create bonds and new friendships. A series of lectures held by world-class professors and researchers accompanied the first General Meeting of the Association. The participants also had the opportunity to visit the national research centre of metrology (INRIM), which hosts several experiments on nanomaterials, quantum optics and time measurement. This conference had a very positive impact on the participants and on the Association as whole; in particular, it was the seed from which several Local Committees sprouted all around the country and new members joined the Association, on a steady wave of enthusiasm.
Among AISF’s initiatives, the FERMI project is well underway in its development. The project has two important aims. On the one hand, we have created a rich and up-to-date on-line database of internships for physics students, with particular emphasis on the ones available in Italy. On the other hand, we would like to boost the culture of internships in our country, by contributing to the creation of new opportunities for students to carry out research in universities, research laboratories, and major companies.
The IAPS@GranSasso event took place last May and had a group of 40 young physicists from thirteen different countries enjoying four days of exposure to cutting-edge research within the beautiful settings of Rome and the Abruzzo region in central Italy. The participants visited the Frascati Tokamak Upgrade, a nuclear fusion research facility, and had the unique opportunity to explore the Gran Sasso underground laboratories, world-leaders for neutrino physics. Several presentations were held by undergraduate students, who had received a scholarship to support their participation from the Gran Sasso Science Institute (GSSI), a centre for advanced studies created in L’Aquila, after the terrible earthquake that severely damaged the city in 2009. The GSSI aims at attracting the brightest young minds in the domains of physics, mathematics, city planning and the social sciences. Throughout the four days of the event, the atmosphere was exceptionally stimulating, and good food oversaw daring scientific discussions and the birth of new friendships. We should very much like to catch this opportunity to thank all participants for their enthusiasm, active involvement and positive feedback. It was immensely satisfying to see that the event was inspirational and great fun at the same time for many of you. Take the chance to read more about IAPS@GranSasso in Jacopo Mazza’s article on the event, published in this issue of jIAPS!
AISF has moved its first steps and is now walking firmly, constantly improving. The initiatives here presented have been core parts of our activities, which make AISF confident and, at the same time, even more eager to do better, to do more. Each event brings about a new goal, more and more ambitious. This is what AISF wants to offer to its members, and also what its members want to have from AISF. More events, more opportunities, more tools in order to build a solid network among the Italian students, that is able to enrich them with new, unique moments and to represent them at the international level. For this reason, AISF’s horizon is not closed by the national borders, but it extends further, so that, very soon, a mature Association will not be afraid of tackling challenges at an international level.