Bhubaneswar: Union minister for road transport, highways and MSME, Nitin Gadkari Saturday said, knowledge and innovative research, backed by appropriate use of technology and policy decision, were needed for the country to move forward.

“A lot depends on vision, technology and knowledge as it can convert waste into wealth,” Gadkari said while addressing the 6th Convocation of the SOA Deemed to be University here.

Odisha’s governor Ganeshi Lal was the chief guest on the occasion while the convocation was also graced by union petroleum and steel minister Dharmendra Pradhan and State higher education minister Arun Kumar Sahoo.

 SOA chancellor Khageswar Pradhan presided over the function while the vice chancellor Amit Banerjee presented the report. Registrar B.B.Pradhan was also present.

Honoris Causa (Doctor of Science) was presented on the occasion to Debi Prosad Duari, a distinguished scientist in the domain of astronomy and astrophysics, who is presently the director of the Birla Planetarium at Kolkata.

Expressing happiness at SOA having established 13 research centers and 38 laboratories to strengthen its research program, Mr. Gadkari said the country needed to place greater focus in this area while steps should be initiated to strengthen the knowledge base.

The union minister said after a Malaysian engineer had informed him about a new technology in which steel fibre was being used in place of steel for construction of bridges and flyovers to reduce cost, he had decided to get it checked by engineers. “It was found to be true. The use of steel fibres reduced the construction cost by 25 per cent,” he said adding “the need was to think out of the box.”

Research is also on to use bio-fuel for flying aircrafts and a SpiceJet flight from Dehradun to Delhi had flown using 25 per cent Jatropha oil as aviation fuel, he said adding the focus was on bio-fuel development.

The university’s decision to set up the Centre for Environment and Climate came in for special mention by the State higher education minister who described it as a timely step in the face of serious environmental challenges faced by the state.

The vice-chancellor, Amit Banerjee said SOA had been ranked among the top 25 universities in the country for two consecutive years of 2018 and 2019 while it had broken into world rankings by being placed in the 600 plus category by the Times Higher Education (THE) World Ranking.

Banerjee said altogether 167 Ph.D. degrees were being presented to the scholars at the convocation in addition to four Chancellor’s Gold Medals and 132 University Gold Medals to the students who had excelled. Degrees had been presented to 4542 under graduate and 1243 post graduates students who passed out from the university.