CHENNAI: The former President and India’s rocket-missile technologist, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, has been appointed Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), Thiruvananthapuram. The IIST was established by the Department of Space in 2007.
Mr. Kalam was the project director of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) first two SLV-3 (Satellite Launch Vehicles) flights in 1979 and 1980 from Sriharikota. The SLV-3 flight in 1980 was a big success, with the rocket putting the Rohini satellite in orbit. He was also the architect of India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme under which Agni, Prithvi, Akash, Trishul and Nag missiles were developed.
The IIST, a deemed university, is the world’s first space university to offer undergraduate programmes. It offers two four-year B.Tech programmes in Avionics and Aerospace, and a five-year integrated post-graduate programme in Applied Sciences.
G. Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO and Secretary, Department of Space, said on Monday evening: “I just talked to Mr. Kalam on the phone and he told me that he would like to be a different kind of Chancellor. He will do research on futuristic space technologies.” Mr. Nair said he was “really excited” over the development because Mr. Kalam “is the country’s topmost rocket scientist and to have him as Chancellor of the IIST is a blessing.”
B.N. Suresh, Director, IIST, said: “I am sure with Mr. Kalam as the Chancellor, the IIST will scale great heights.”
Dr. Suresh, who was earlier Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre at Thiruvananthapuram, said 150 students had joined the IIST’s three courses in 2008 compared to 138 in 2007.
The institute would start three M. Tech. courses in Radio Frequency and Microwave, Adoptive Optics and Soft Computing from the next academic year (2009).
Dr. Manmohan will lay the foundation stone for the new campus at Valiamala, near Thiruvananthapuram, in October, Mr. Nair said.