As a unique and path-breaking institution, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology needs to be supported not only for the pride it will bring to Kerala but also for the larger good of India’s space programme.

K.G. Kumar

Last week, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) was inaugurated in Thiruvananthapuram, by the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Mr G. Madhavan Nair. The inaugural ceremony went off well despite the flutter of controversies regarding the status of the land ISRO had acquired in Ponmudi, the picturesque hill station on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram.

The capital seemed destined to play host to the new institute. Not only are some of ISRO’s top scientists from the city itself, but Thiruvananthapuram is also home to the two major units of ISRO, namely, the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.

IIST’s mission is “to establish a world-class institute offering space technology and space science educational programmes which are integrated with basic and applied research for meeting the requirements of the Indian space programme.”

It aims to be a unique institute in the country where education will be totally integrated with research work in the areas of space technology, space science and space applications. IIST will share the resources and special facilities of ISRO, while, in the meantime, creating its own infrastructure to integrate its research activities with the national space programmes.

Courses on offer

Towards that end, the institute is offering under-graduate, post-graduate and doctoral educational programmes, namely, a four-year Bachelor of Technology (B. Tech.) course in space technology, or more specifically, in avionics (50 seats) and aerospace engineering (40 seats) as well as a five-year Integrated Masters degree in Applied Science (30 seats). In addition to the regular curriculum, the courses will have special modules tailored to space technology and space science. All the students who successfully complete the academic programme with a minimum first class will be absorbed in ISRO as Scientist/Engineer in the pay scale of Rs 8,000-275-13,500, which is likely to be revised, with a service condition of five years.

As for selection of students, IIST will follow in the footsteps of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). All the candidates who are placed in the extended list of IIT Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) 2007 are eligible to apply in the first phase.

The candidates who are qualified with an IIT JEE 2007 Rank will be eligible to apply in the second phase (after the completion of IIT seat counselling), provided they have not selected an IIT seat. A combined merit list, using the above, will be generated for counselling for admission.

As of now, 140 students from various parts of the country have enrolled for the under-graduate and masters courses, which are currently being conducted at the alternative campus developed at VSSC, Thiruvananthapuram. Once these students graduate, they will be able to walk into assured jobs at ISRO.

As a unique and path-breaking institution, the IIST needs to be supported and encouraged not only for the pride that it will bring to Kerala but also for the larger good of the Indian space technology programme.

The writer can be contacted at kgkumar@gmail.com

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 24, 2007)
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