Around this time last year I was in the midst of researching for my master thesis on fusion technology, keen to work on a project related to this grand effort of harnessing the energy of stars on earth. Little did I know that this September I would visit the largest stellarator device in the world, Wendelstein 7-X, and participate in the Max Planck IPP Summer University for Plasma Physics and Fusion Research taking place in Greifswald.
The 5-day summer school was compact with lectures covering the most important aspects of fusion research worldwide, with an emphasis on stellarator plasma physics. Since I had not had the chance to study the working principles of a stellarator in detail before joining the summer school, I was mesmerized by the design features of W7-X, which many speakers elaborated on. The lectures were well organised and contained the latest advances in plasma studies along with data from recent experiments, thus offering the chance to share in the excitement over the cutting-edge research conducted at IPP both in Greifswald and in Garching. The tour to the actual reactor and the ECRH system was an unforgettable experience as most of us had not been close to such an experimental area before. I was particularly interested in the 250 ports that allowed access to the vacuum vessel in order to run diagnostic tests for the conditions encountered at the heart of the plasma.
The addition oof the Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum excursion - a historic site where the first cruise missiles and the first ever functioning large-scale rockets were built - created an opportunity to reflect on the role of physics and scientific effort in political matters and I consider it one of the highlights of the summer school.
After discussing this event with participants who have been to other summer schools, I got the impression from almost everyone that this was one of the most prestigious events that they have attended and I believe we truly had the chance to learn and expand our knowledge and understanding of plasma physics and controlled fusion. I cannot thank enough the organisers of the summer school, the fellow participants who were a delight to spend time and share ideas with and of course FuseNet for giving me the chance to attend such a great event!