Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Chief Operating Officer
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
IEEE Milestone Ceremony
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
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
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.