Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Kerala Section, has conferred the KPP Nambiar Award for 2024, on S Somanath, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), at a function held here on Saturday. The award is named after KPP Nambiar, doyen of electronics industry and founder-chair of IEEE Kerala Section. 

Remembering Nambiar

The annual award is instituted to honour individuals or groups in Kerala, for their significant contributions to the IEEE vision of advancing technology for humanity, Muhammad Kasim, Chair, IEEE, Kerala section, said. Somanath was chosen for the pivotal role he played in steering Chandrayaan-3, ISRO’s lunar exploration programme, the award committee observed. He also served various VSSC and ISRO missions, including as Project Manager, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Project Director, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mk - III), Kasim said.

ISRO culture

In his acceptance speech, Somanath stressed on the importance of learning from mistakes and acknowledged a supportive environment at the premier organisations. He emphasised ISRO’s culture of embracing failures as opportunities for improvement. “Those who work and do things, make mistakes. The organisation chose to stand by them. In this manner, we could achieve growth, technically and managerially.” As Chairman, he said he had navigated significant challenges, including transitioning towards greater openness and collaboration within the space sector. 

Need to embrace change

Somanath highlighted the importance of embracing change and fostering a collaborative ecosystem.” By allowing others to grow, you will also grow.” Under his leadership, ISRO successfully fostered partnerships with private companies, leading to the emergence of more than 200 start-ups in the space sector. He emphasised ISRO’s commitment to leveraging expertise of private entities, to expand the space ecosystem in India. He expressed confidence in the potential for private companies, in undertaking routine tasks such as rocket launches that helps free up ISRO resources to focus on innovation and exploration.

Other award winners

IEEE Kerala Section, gave away the Amarnath Raja Humanitarian Technology Award to Jawahara Fathima and team, MA College, Kothamangalam for the project ‘Light for lives’. Outstanding Woman Engineer Award went to Athuladevi S, Deputy Director, Avionics, VSSC; Outstanding Industry Contribution Award to Suresh Nair; Outstanding Teacher Award to Bos Mathew Jos, Principal, MA College, Kothamangalam; Friend of IEEE award to PV Unnikrishnan, Member Secretary,K-DISC; Outstanding Start-up Award to Open Financial; Industry Academy Collaboration Award to Synthite; Outstanding Researcher Award to Jayaprakash P, Principal, GEC, Kannur. Outstanding student volunteer awards and professional awards were also distributed.

Among those who spoke on the occasion were G Vijayaraghavan, Founder-CEO ,Technopark; Muhammed Karim, Chair; Biju K, Secretary; Bijina Kunju, Vice-Chair, and R Srinivasan, Chair Awards Committee, IEEE Kerala Section; Mini Ulanat, Suresh Nair and Sameer SM, former Chairs; and Nandan S.