GMRT accorded prestigious IEEE Milestone status

Rare honour: The GMRT is an array of thirty parabolic radio telescopes of 45-metre diameter in Pune.  

The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) has been selected as a ‘Milestone’ facility by the U.S.-based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which is the world’s largest technical professional organisation dedicated to advancing technology in all areas related to electrical and electronics engineering.

The IEEE Milestones programme honours significant technical achievements which have global or regional impact. This is only the third such IEEE ‘Milestone’ recognition for an Indian contribution. The previous two Indian IEEE Milestones were for the pioneering work done by Sir J.C. Bose to demonstrate the generation and reception of radio waves in 1895 (recognised in 2012), and for the Nobel Prize-winning (in 1930) ‘scattering of light’ phenomenon observed by Sir C.V. Raman in 1928.

Considering the global impact of GMRT with users from over 40 countries and the fact that it was designed and built entirely in India, the IEEE’s India office and its Pune branch had initiated the proposal to nominate GMRT for this recognition.

The formal proposal was submitted, in cooperation with the Pune-based National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), to the IEEE early this year after an initial review of the history and accomplishments of the GMRT by a team from IEEE India.

Following a review process, which included appraisal by international experts, the proposal was first put up to the History Committee of the IEEE, which cleared it for approval in October. It was then submitted to the IEEE Board of Directors for final approval, which was granted on November 23.

Professor Toshio Fukuda, president and CEO of IEEE, said: “IEEE milestones recognise important landmarks in the global pursuit of excellence in Science and Engineering, which have significantly advanced technology for the benefit of humanity. I am pleased that the GMRT programme of India has been recognised as an IEEE Milestone, acknowledging its contributions to the important work of exploring the universe through radio astronomy. I also congratulate all of the scientists and engineers who have developed and operated GMRT with such great distinction.”

Harish Mysore, senior director, IEEE India Operations, said the IEEE has so far recognised 212 milestones for their scientific and engineering contributions. “The GMRT is the third IEEE Milestone in India. This IEEE milestone not only recognises the contributions of scientists and engineers of India, it also helps to attract young talent towards fundamental science and engineering,” Mr. Mysore said.

A number of technical innovations pioneered by the GMRT, conceived by pioneering radio astronomer, late Professor Govind Swarup, are mentioned in the citation for the award. “…It (the GMRT) pioneered new techniques in antenna design, receiver systems, and signal transport over optical fiber.”

The citation also recognises the scientific work done using GMRT. “The GMRT has produced important discoveries in domains such as pulsars, supernovae, galaxies, quasars, and cosmology, greatly enhancing our understanding of the Universe.”

Professor Yashwant Gupta, Centre Director, NCRA, said it was indeed a very proud and special moment, not just for GMRT and NCRA but also for the country’s science and technology fraternity to see a modern, made-in-India facility earn this international recognition.

“It is also a fitting tribute to the late Prof. Govind Swarup, who was the driving force behind the GMRT, and all the team members whose efforts over the last 30 years or so made the GMRT a reality, culminating in the successful upgrade of the facility that we completed last year. We look forward with great anticipation to the IEEE Milestone dedication ceremony,” said Prof. Gupta.

The IEEE Milestone will be formalised in a special dedication ceremony that will involve unveiling of the bronze citation plaque at the GMRT premises. According to NCRA sources, the event is expected to take place some time next year as soon as the pandemic situation allows ease of travel to India.

The IEEE president and other officials are expected to participate in the event, which will also see the participation of several dignitaries from the academia, industry and the Central government.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 1:01:40 AM |

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