Summer in the Lab: bridging research and education

© Alain Herzog / EPFL

© Alain Herzog / EPFL

How can EPFL students get a practical and deep understanding of their field of studies? How can we strengthen synergies between education and research? The Summer in the Lab internship program represents the School’s first official framework to address these challenges beyond the academic calendar.

With the aim to develop the research culture at EPFL, the Vice Presidency for Academic Affairs (VPA) launched this year a program called Summer in the Lab. Implemented and managed by the School’s Education Outreach Department (SPE), this project encourages practical learning from the beginning of the Bachelor’s.

The Summer in the Lab program is designed for EPFL students who wish to explore or confirm their interest for research. The objective of these two-months immersions over the summer within one of the EPFL laboratories, is to offer interns the experience of a stimulating research environment. In addition, they can put their polytechnical knowledge into practice and so reinforce their career prospects in Switzerland and internationally. According to Kathryn Hess Bellwald, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Outreach, participants can gain a much more in-depth vision of their studies in order to make informed decisions for their future academic and professional path.

Unlike projects and practical exercises during the semester, where the setting is usually adapted to the students’ level, these internships offer a concrete, less structured, and more realistic picture of the creative and innovative stages that happen in a cutting-edge research laboratory.

Kathryn Hess Bellwald, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Outreach

EPFL students have welcomed this new internship program with great enthusiasm and interest. For Marion Boissat, co-president of the School’s association AGEPoly, the remunerated Summer in the Lab internships fit perfectly into the academic calendar and could have a great success because it allows students not only to gain more hands-on experience but also to step out of their comfort zone.

In response to the suggestions of the student and alumni community to get a more multidisciplinary approach throughout their studies, the organizers also added workshops in science communication and leadership to the agenda.With these complementary courses, the Summer in the Lab program provides a rich and balanced training of scientific and transversal skills.

End of September, this year’s cohort will present their research at a closing symposium. This opportunity will also allow them to apply their newly acquired presentation and communication skills. Kathryn Hess Bellwald explains: "It is nowadays essential for future scientists, researchers or pragmatic managers to have the ability to present their projects, to work and to communicate in teams."

The participants’ positive response to these courses would comfort us in our strategy to develop and integrate more and more soft skills training courses as part of the academic curriculum.

Kathryn Hess Bellwald

This year’s applications are closed. For the summer 2023 internship cohort, the applications will open in December 2022. For more information, check the Summer in the Lab program webpages or contact the Education Outreach Department: [email protected]

References

The Summer in the Lab programme is supported by the Fondation du Domaine de Villette.