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Dr. Bordogna's Remarks


Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Deputy Director
Chief Operating Officer
IEEE Milestone Ceremony
Puerto Rico

November 3, 2001

Good afternoon. I'm delighted to be a part of this celebration honoring engineers and scientists and their achievements, and I bring you warm and hearty greetings from the National Science Foundation.

I want to thank the Honorable Ferdinand Mercado for distinguishing these proceedings with his personal presence and rank, Engineer William Gordon, creator of the observatory we recognize today, as well as the many others who have worked so hard to make this facility a success.

The Arecibo Observatory represents a strong and unique alliance in research and education that exists between NSF, Cornell University, the University of Puerto Rico and many other institutions.

This honor bestowed by IEEE and ASME acknowledges one of the finest and most powerful radar instruments ever built, not to mention the largest stationary radar telescope in the world. The award recognizes an awesome legacy. Built in 1963 with support from the National Science Foundation, Arecibo allowed us to determine for the first time, the rotation rate of the planet Mercury, as well as giving us the first discovery of planets outside our solar system. Now we know of almost 80 extra solar planets. Just imagine, after 4.5 billion years of Earth's formation, it is at Arecibo that humankind has first seen planets around stars other than our own.

The observatory not only assists scientists and engineers in making discoveries, Arecibo became a star/luminary in its own right, co-starring alongside actress Jody Foster in "Contact" and the legendary James Bond in "Goldeneye." Who knows what will come next. (Though I hear contract negotiations are on the horizon.)

In all seriousness, exploring and understanding our universe has required a breathtaking pace of technological innovation, engineering infrastructure building, and scientific discovery.

For example, a $27-million upgrade in 1997, made Arecibo capable of "hearing" signals from greater distances and further back in time than before. The telescope undoubtedly has contributed to launching astronomy to even greater heights. Something we at the National Science Foundation always envision.

NSF is committed to such large facility projects. They are a splendid example of U.S. science and engineering. They are the starting points for countless journeys to the frontiers of discovery and learning.

Throughout its 51-year history, NSF has enjoyed an extraordinarily successful track record in providing state-of-the-art facilities for science and engineering research and education. Currently, NSF invests over $1 billion annually in facilities and other infrastructure projects.

With emerging cross-boundary science and engineering opportunities, large facility projects are becoming increasingly necessary and more complex, more exotic, for progress at the frontier. At NSF, our motto is "build right those facilities that are the right ones to build." We are depending on the engineering community to help us construct these new facilities as the foundation of future scientific and engineering discoveries.

Facilities like Arecibo have opened up vast new research vistas and enabled us to pursue the most imaginative and creative ideas. The Arecibo Observatory has certainly been built right, and it was the right thing to build. We should all be proud of ourselves. Together we can do "The Right Stuff" and continue to make history happen for astronomy.

The selection of this observatory as an IEEE milestone and an ASME landmark was the right decision, as was NSF's support of this facility for the last four decades.

Thank you for inviting NSF, and me, to join you in this wonderful celebration.



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