Remembering Dr. Kalpana Chawla - 15 years after Columbia disaster

Event organized at PEC, which brought eminent academicians together on a single stage.

Chandigarh, February 28, 2018. Dr. Kalpana Chawla is first Indian born female astronaut to travel out of Earth’s atmosphere. The year 2018 marks 15 years of the tragic disaster which took the inspiring personality from Karnal away from us. It was 1st February, 2003 when Columbia space shuttle underwent a tragic accident minute before touching down, during its re-entry into atmosphere. Dr. Kalpana Chawla continues to inspire many young minds across the globe.

On the occasion, Punjab Engineering College (Deemed to be University), Chandigarh organized an event in memory of its star alumna, Dr. Kaplana Chawla, who graduated from Aerospace Engineering Department of PEC in 1982, with Bachelors of Engineering degree. The event saw special guests in the form of professors who have taught Dr. Chawla. A special video prepared by projection and design club of PEC on the journey of Dr. Kalpana Chawla was also played. Dr. SC Sharma, teacher of Dr. Chawla and former head of aerospace engineering department at PEC, told many anecdotes of Kaplana Chawla to the crowd. Professor Sharma shared how Kalpana was a ‘different’ student with spark in her eyes, who was so confident to come up with well framed questions for her teachers. Narrating an incident where Dr. Chawla showed courage to  lead her class along with showing commitment towards studies.

Dr. Frank Lu, professor in University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and head of aerodynamic research centre, was also present on the occasion. Kalpana Chawla did her masters at UTA. Inspiring the young students present, Dr. Lu also presented artefacts to PEC which he carried with him all along from UTA.

Dr. Frank Lu, known for his work on Pulse Detonation Engine, on the occasion expressed the desire to connect PEC with UTA. Dr. Rakesh Kumar, HOD Aerospace department gave a presentation on the activities of the department and various possibilities of collaboration were discussed in the  meeting. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Uma Batra, Deputy Director of the institute. Among others who were present in the meeting were Dr. K K Gogna, Dean Alumni and International relations, Dr. Tripta Goyal, Dean sponsored research and industrial consutancy, Dr. J D Sharma, coordinator alumni affairs.

Another special guest was Dr. Li Ming, senior research scientist from National University of Singapore. Dr Li Ming also interacted with students.

The event concluded with Ashoka tree plantations by Dr Frank Lu and Dr. Li Ming in the premises of Aerospace Engineering Department of PEC.