The IUCAA Node for Astronomy and Astrophysics Development (INAAD) program

Background:

For the last two decades, IUCAA has been promoting Astronomy and Astrophysics in Universities and Colleges across the country. About eighty University and College teachers are IUCAA associates, in part of a program where they use IUCAA facilities and research expertise to enhance their own research and to convey that knowledge and excitement to the Universities. Six IUCAA Resource Centres (IRC) provide up to date modern computing facilities, books and necessary software which are utilized by students and researchers of the nearby region. Every year, a number of IUCAA sponsored workshops/seminars are arranged directly, or through IRC, in various Universities and Colleges.

However, it has been noticed, especially for colleges, that such workshops are not regular sustained activity and hence benefit only a given batch of students. More importantly the inspired students often do not have a sustained forum where they can pursue their interest through a project/thesis.

A sustained level of activity of say one or more introductory workshops in an year in a college can be in practice maintained only by the support of nearby IUCAA associates. They may provide guidance and be the primary resource people for such activities. Projects/thesis of the college students may also be jointly supervised by one or more associates. With this foundation, more concentrated and advanced level activities can then be undertaken with the more direct and longer term involvement of the larger community of all IUCAA members and associates.

The INAAD Program:

The program is required to provide technical knowledge, resource people,coordination, financial support and some basic resources, for the colleges to maintain a vibrant astronomy teaching program.

An INAAD will organize regular IUCAA sponsored workshops in the host college. These workshops will target the students of the host and nearby colleges and will be at the undergraduate or postgraduate level. While each workshop has to be approved by IUCAA, an INAAD will be able design the workshop according to the local environment and need. It will have the flexibility to organize a workshop at short notice, when an apt opportunity arises. It will depend primarily on local and nearby resource people for most needs, but can invite specialists from further away (including IUCAA) for more advanced programs.

An INAAD will strive to have the basic infrastructure to provide opportunities for the college students to undertake projects/thesis in astronomy related subjects. Suggestions as to what kind of projects may be offered will be obtained from IUCAA members and associates. With the experience gained from conducting the initial workshops and based on the local requirements, an INAAD can request IUCAA to provide, as a loan, some necessary facilities like data centre related devices.

The infrastructure in terms of computers, software and data storage devices will be obtained based on the needs, experience gained and local requirements of an individual INAAD.

Procedure:

To establish an INAAD in a college, an IUCAA associate needs to send a letter of intent which must be forwarded by the Principal/Head of the host college. The letter should contain a brief introduction to the host college, including the strength of the students and staff in physics, and the number of course taught and the projects/thesis that are undertaken by the students as part of their curriculum. Details of any activities related to Astronomy that the College is presently undertaking, or has so in the past, maybe be mentioned. The present infrastructure of the college relevant to INAAD should be described, and mention should be made of any immediate and specific requirement that needs to be satisfied for running of the INNAT. At least two letters of support from IUCAA associates (not necessarily from the College) who agree to advice, direct and actively participate in the proposed INAAD activities, are required. The letter may be sent at any time of the year and addressed to the Coordinator, Core programs, IUCAA by email at snk@iucaa.in.

Upon consideration, an applicant may be invited to initiate the INAAD at the College. The INAAD will formally come into existence after a memorandum of understanding (MOU) is signed between the college principal/head and the Director, IUCAA. The MOU will list out the duties/responsibilities of the INAAD and IUCAA toward the program and the rules regarding financial and asset transfer or loan.