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University reaches for the stars with Bradford-Renduchintala Centre for Space AI


Murthy Renduchintala

The Centre will be involved in space and satellite research and education

Bradford is to get its very own space research centre, thanks to a multi-million pound donation from a University of Bradford graduate. Dr Venkata ‘Murthy’ Renduchintala has donated the money to kickstart the Bradford-Renduchintala Centre for Space AI.

Murthy studied at the University from 1983-1991, during which time he gained a BEng degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, a PhD in Satellite Communications and a Masters degree in Business Administration.

The Centre aims to be recognised as the centre of excellence in Space AI Technology to advance research and to stimulate innovation in the area of distributed computing, automation and information technologies, exploiting the latest artificial intelligence and embedded technologies for applications to space systems

The Centre’s longer-term ambition is to establish the Yorkshire & Humber region as the space technology anchor, through collaboration with industries, governments, regional organisations and academia.

The Centre will establish:-

  • Space/satellite technology research and teaching laboratories, housed in Horton D Building, with facilities to support nanosat development, a satellite ground station, a telecommand centre, as well as other electronics equipment and software to stimulate innovation in both research and teaching.
  • A Chair in Space Systems Engineering, to provide additional teaching and research expertise in this field
  • A postdoctoral research assistant position
  • A new lecturing post to support the delivery of the MSc programme as well as research growth
  • A Dedicated Business Development Manager role, to maximise the potential for partnerships and income generation activity
  • A postgraduate scholarship programme to complement the launch of an MSc programme in Space Systems Engineering, due in September 2022

Dr Renduchintala said: "I am delighted to be able make this donation to my Alma Mater. Whatever I have been able to achieve professionally thus far has been built on the solid academic foundation the University provided me with. It therefore seems both fitting and appropriate that I participate in helping the leadership of the University as they take this institute into important fields of research and learning that look towards our future. I am really excited by the ambitions we have for the Centre and am confident that the research it conducts will be both influential and impactful."

Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford, said: "This is a major partnership for the University of Bradford and one we are particularly excited about. We are incredibly grateful to our alumnus Dr Renduchintala for his most generous contribution, and also for the new opportunities this will bring to students at our University.

"This investment means the University will be able to take advantage of the many opportunities that will be generated as a result of an increase in space exploration and to play a role in the creation of cutting-edge technologies.

“This will also act as a stimulus for local companies and enable us to forge new and innovative partnerships across the world."

Dr Renduchintala is one of the most high-profile members of the University community, having pursued a distinguished career in developing and manufacturing wireless communications, System-on-Chip and Internet of Things technologies – working latterly as the Chief Engineering Officer for Intel Corporation. Currently, Murthy serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Accenture plc and as a member of the Advisory Councils for 2 Engineering Schools within the University of California Academic system. He lives in the US, but his family remain in the UK and they all feel a very strong connection to Yorkshire, and to Bradford in particular.

Now he has generously donated a multi-million pound gift to seed-fund the creation of the Bradford-Renduchintala Centre for Space AI, based at the University of Bradford, an entirely new teaching and research capability within the University.

The Centre will allow the University to deliver educational programmes in space and satellite technology development, and to play an active role in the creation of cutting-edge technologies.

Professor Fun Hu, Professor of Wireless Communications and the Centre Director, said: “The generous donation from Murthy has given the University a solid foundation to step out firmly to explore with the rest of the world in this space era. It is an exciting venture and has created a lot of enthusiasm around the University and people with whom I am working. As a university, the Centre will ensure that our researchers and students are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge that are sought after by the space and related industry.”

High profile external experts who have extensive industrial experience in satellite and space system will join the team to deliver the MSc programme, in addition to outreach activities to enhance the profile of the Centre and improve the diversity and calibre of students the MSc programme attracts. Outreach activities include annual STEAM events, Seasonal School for undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students. An annual themed space workshop where industries and academia will be invited to participate.

The work undertaken by the Centre will contribute directly to the University’s Business and Community Engagement sub-strategy and Research and Innovation sub-strategy.

The scholarship programme, Summer School, and STEM outreach activities associated with the Centre will provide substantial momentum to the University’s Access and Participation Plan.

An Innovation and Skills Advisory Board (ISAB) with representatives from prominent industry and from the public sector will be established, providing steer to the Centre research direction, as well as to identify skill gaps needed in the sector. The Centre will also be proactive in networking with other universities, initially focusing those along the M62 corridor to ensure regional presence and promote regional collaboration.

Background information

The University has a history of space and satellite technology research stretching back almost forty years. During the 1980s, research primarily focused on satellite-Earth propagation and antenna design. In the 1990s, this work expanded to include the integration of satellites into terrestrial mobile networks and transport communication infrastructures, including railway and air transport systems. From 2000, research at the University has included satellite imaging to study space weather events, such as solar flares.

The quality of research undertaken by the University of Bradford led to its admission to the Satellite Network of Excellence (SatNEx) in 2004; SatNEx was funded first by the European Union, and thereafter by the European Space Agency. More recently, Professor Fun Hu’s research group has received commendation from the European Commission on their exceptional quality of a report in relation to the application of AI and machine learning for security detection in air traffic management, in which satellite communications technologies play an important role.