Prof. Govind Swarup

IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing

Indian-Express News :

Pune-based Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) has become the third Indian scientific facility to be awarded the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) milestone for its novel engineering, advanced technology and scientific contributions made in the field of radio astronomy.

GMRT is an array of 30 antennas positioned in a ‘Y’ fashion, centred at Khodad village in Junnar taluka of Pune district. Operated by the TIFR – National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), the GMRT was the brainchild of late Govind Swarup. Extensively used for studying the universe in low frequency since 2000, the telescope has been instrumental in many path-breaking discoveries. Scientists from more than 40 countries are beneficiaries of data obtained from this telescope. Recently, the facility underwent its first upgrade, thereby allowing researchers to see much deeper into the universe. The IEEE is the world’s largest technical body publishing research from the fields of engineering and computing, in addition to awarding standards to institutions and organisations involved in these fields. J C Bose’s demonstration of generation and reception of radio waves (1895) and the discovery of the Raman Effect by C V Raman (1928) have been the only IEEE milestone winners from India, till date. However, their discoveries were recognised as late as 2012.

On GMRT’s achievement, professor Yashwant Gupta, director of NCRA, said, “Not many radio telescopes around the world have the IEEE recognition. The GMRT has bagged it for being an engineering marvel, and for its scientific impact on radio astronomy. We hope this recognition will inspire talented researchers to work with us in the future.”

IEEE considers an institution for the milestone on the basis of engineering, science, and computational facilities it offers for not less than 25 years. It seeks well-documented history and consistent contributions provided by the institute. “The review of GMRT took over 14 months,” said Harish Mysore, senior director, IEEE India Operations. “The international review committee, including leading persons from radio astronomy, opined that GMRT truly stands-out and deserved IEEE milestone recognition.”

While as many as 15 contender institutions from India are currently undergoing the review process for the IEEE milestone, a major challenge for India is poor documentation . “India does not lack scientific achievements or contributions. But unlike other countries, institutions here fail to document their work,” Harish said. He added the process to attain this milestone involves continuous evaluation and consistent performance.

IEEE India officials said Chaturbhuj temple in Gwalior, where inscriptions of zero were traced, and Jaipur’s Jantar Mantar, which houses architectural astronomical instruments to accurately measure planetary movements, could earn the IEEE milestone. ISRO, All-India Radio, and Indian Institution of Sciences (IISc) have the potential to win it as well.