An initiative of the Foundation to allow Moroccans students the opportunity to realize their PhD work at CERN

Thanks to the persistent effort over more than ten years, of a small group of Moroccan physicists, Morocco is part and parcel of the LHC experimental program now starting. Morocco is a member of the ATLAS collaboration that groups more than 2000 physicists and 165 research institutes in 37 countries. It is is the only Arab country and the first of the African continent to enjoy this status.

The Sharing Knowledge Foundation has full knowledge of this situation since Abdeslam Hoummada, spokesman of the Moroccan universities working at CERN, is a member of our Foundation Council. This is the reason of our initiative, starting in Spring 2008,which aims at reinforcing the Moroccan participation to the CERN program.

It is a fact that Internet and grids now allow physicists based in Casablanca, Oujda, Rabat or Marrakech to follow “live ” the particule collisions happening at  CERN, and the development of those technological possibilities to benefit scientists in Maghreb and Subsaharian Africa is one of our top priorities.

It remains, nonetheless, that a physical and permanent presence is much more effective. For this reason, CERN has created a highly attractive Fellowships system open to nationals of Member-States (Morocco is not member). To finance scholarships at the same conditions as provided by CERN is out of reach for Moroccan Universities budgets. We therefore felt that trying to find extra-budgetary ressources for that purpose in Morocco or Europe was  within the Mission of our Foundation.

Having  Moroccan students at CERN, in order to prepare their PhD responded to a double aim :

  • to increase the credibility of the Moroccan participation to the ATLAS program through a permanent presence.
  • to allow young and talented Moroccans, within a very stimulating international environment, to acquire knowledge in Physics as well as in Advanced technologies with a great potential of industrial applications. Those young people would therefore constitute a precious ressouce for their country,either in the pursuit of an academic career or in an career within Moroccan industrial groups.

We have therefore started, since June 2008, to look for the necessary sponsorship partners. The start of the financial crisis did not allow us to gain the anticipated support of the major Moroccan companies. We believe that this will come in the future, because in the meantime we have received supports that allow us to start the program this year and are confident that it will be a great success.
On the 25th June, the Foundation concluded an agreement with CERN (and HASSAN II University of Casablanca). If we provide CERN with the necessary outside funding, Moroccan Doctoral students will be part of CERN staff with the same status as nationals of Member-State.

For this year, the HASSAN II Royal Academy of Science and Technology has accepted to initiate the program, by financing the first scholarship (one year, renewable once) and is now a full partner of  the agreement with CERN. We wish to salute the vision  of the Academy in recognising the importance of this project, for the goals of Moroccan scientific development The  private Carnot Foundation has already confirmed to be part of the program as a contributor for next year .

The process has now started. A call for candidates has been launched this week, open to students of all Moroccan universities that will satisfy the necessary criterias to prepare a PhD in this field of research. An international jury (with the participation of our Foundation) will choose the laureate before the 17th March 2010. The Selection Committee of CERN will take place in April.

The Foundation is determined to continue its action to obtain support for this program to continue for the next 5 or 6 years.

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