By Surekha Vijh
WASHINGTON: India recently launched an unmanned mission to the planet of Mars, joining the United States National Aeronautic and Space Administration’s two rovers, two NASA orbiters and a European Space Agency satellite already studying Mars, thus strengthening the country’s association with the US space program.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) provided India with trajectory and flight path calculations for the Mangalyaan Mars mission to achieve greater accuracy. In return, India, in its first inter-planetary mission, will share data collected from the mission back to the US.
The American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) recently celebrated the current cooperation between India and the United States in space programs.
The NASA Administrator Gen. Charles Bolden, in his keynote speech at the ASEI’s 28th annual convention, highlighted the close partnership between Indi and the US in outer space explorations and lauded the Indian-Americans for their contribution to NASA’s success in space activities.
Addressing the conference held at the University of Maryland (UMD), Bolden, a former astronaut and aviator, congratulated ASEI for their support, encouragement and mentoring of young Indian American science and engineering students as NASA and other agencies need fresh talent.
Recalling his recent India visit where he met with the leaders of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and discussed the US -India space collaboration, Bolden pointed out that Washington was committed to seeing this cooperation grow exponentially with a plethora of joint activities.
“Scientists and engineers, who have dedicated lives to improving life in America and life on earth through the talent, vision and ingenuity you bring to your work every day,” Bolden said.
“America is stronger not only because of what you do, but because of your commitment to pass it on to the next generation through the scholarships, awards and mentoring you offer to young students,”‘ he added.
The event attracted over 300 attendees, including professors, students, ASEI members, Maryland elected officials and representatives from the White House, NASA and the US Department of Commerce.
The UMD President Dr. Wallace Loh also congratulated and addressed the audience.
The theme of the convention, “Innovative Technologies: An Engine for Economic Growth,” was inspired by the vision outlined by President Barack Obama for the country over the past five years.
The convention was co-hosted by ASEI’s national capital chapter (NCC) and the ASEI-UMD student chapter, which also partnered with the Pan Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) WHEELS Global Foundation, the capital IIT chapter and Habitat for Humanity.
According to ASEI, many of such innovative technologies could be extensive contributors to the economic growth in the country, be they in energy, healthcare, information technology, nanotechnology or space.
Several Indian American elected officials from Maryland also addressed the audience. Many other presentations were on the multi day agenda including Suresh Shenoy, Executive VP of IMC on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Dr. Thomas Abraham of GOPIO and Dr. Ajay Kothari.
The ASEI was founded in 1982 by Hari Bindal, who also served as past President. He is a now a retired engineer from the US Coast Guard and a resident of Maryland. ASEI was now among the five major associations in the US, including the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), the National Federation of Indian American Associations NFIA, and The American Association of Hotel and Motel Owners (AAHOA). “ASEI was patterned after AAPI, both started in 1982,” Bindal said.
The ASEI, which always welcomes engineers of Indian origin from North America and engineering students, is planning the 2014 conference for southern California.