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Start of the 2016 SKA Engineering Meeting in South Africa


Stellenbosch, South Africa, Sunday 2 October 2016 – The 2016 SKA Engineering Meeting opened in Stellenbosch this morning, with talks from the project’s leaders. Some 270 engineers and scientists from 18 countries who are currently involved in the project have travelled from all over the world to attend the week-long conference.

Phil Eng conf 2016

Prof. Philip Diamond, SKA Director-General, opening the 2016 SKA Engineering Meeting in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The meeting opened with a briefing by the SKA Director-General, Prof. Philip Diamond, on the overall status of the project. Prof. Diamond also reported on the excellent progress towards creating the InterGovernmental Organisation (IGO) achieved last week in the 4th round of IGO negotiations in Rome, Italy. Currently, the members of the SKA Organisation are aiming towards a signature of the core text in Q1 2017. Prof. Diamond also took the opportunity to congratulate the project’s Chinese colleagues on the inauguration of the 500m FAST radio telescope in Guizhou province last week, which includes SKA-related technology. 

Alistair McPherson, Head of Project and Deputy Director-General, then updated the delegates on the current schedule and engineering status, and highlighted the upcoming targets and associated challenges to get ready for the procurement and start of the construction scheduled for 2018. Prof. Robert Braun, SKA Science Director, summarised the current science work towards defining the Key Science Projects of SKA. The first morning of the conference concluded with further updates from Dr Simon Berry, Director of Policy Development, on the IGO negotiations and the planned governance for the future SKA Observatory; and Dr Gary Davis, Director of Operations Planning, on the operational model of the future SKA Observatory.

Further to the above updates, the meeting consists of a series of progress updates from each of the 11 industrial consortia designing the project, as well as engineering workshops and interface meetings between consortia to discuss and resolve engineering issues. Ms Naledi Pandor, South African Minister of Science and Technology, will also be addressing the delegates on Tuesday evening during the conference dinner.

The SKA project is now well into the pre-construction phase with 11 consortia carrying out design work to enable the project to complete the critical design reviews and prepare the construction proposal in 2018. These consortia are spread across the globe and are constituted from a variety of institutes and commercial companies representing over 100 institutions.

The meeting is organised by the international SKA Organisation based at Jodrell Bank in the UK and supported locally by SKA South Africa.

Members of the media interested in obtaining further information or interviewing key SKA staff may contact the SKA communications team at the following numbers:

William Garnier
Director of Communications
SKA Organisation
+44 7814 908 932

Mathieu Isidro
Deputy Communications Manager
SKA Organisation
+44 7824 016 126