In a first, 21-year-old Sonal Baberwal hailing from Amaravati, Maharashtra has managed to become the first person to bag the Kalpana Chawla Scholarship of International Space University (ISU) at Cork Institute of Technology in Ireland, announced the university. As per a report by Indiatimes, the scholarship is established to honor late Indian-American Astronaut Dr Kalpana Chawla, who passed away in the space shuttle Columbia accident in February, 2003. The scholarship is aimed at developing strong technical and space research expertise in talented Indian women.
The announcement made by the university says that “scholarship is a commitment for creating building blocks that are necessary for India to maintain its leadership in the global space community and market place.” Speaking to Indiatimes, one of the scholarship founders, Michael Potter termed it as a historic moment and said: “India will continue to be an important player on the international front as it moves forward leading the development of space technologies and activities.”
Under the mission of inculcating and further enhancing leadership skills and funding of Indian nationals in order to attend the space studies programme of ISU’s, the scholarship project states, “the goal is to attract talented young Indian postgraduate students with backgrounds in science, medicine and other space-related areas of focus, who also share Kalpana Chawla’s selfless and passionate pursuit of science and excellence.”
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After completing her schooling at Mount Carmel High School in Amaravati, Sonal Baberwal went ahead with completing her engineering degree in Electronics and Telecommunication stream from the Sipna College of Engineering and Technology. Sonal wants to pursue her career in robotics, Pluto, space debris and environmental aspects and also the field of Space and Art. She has even got in touch with several NASA astronauts and has made several presentations on space-related topics in India.