An OBE is a Queen’s honor given to an individual for a major role in any activity such as business, charity or the public sector. OBE stands for Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
“I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded an OBE,” Ashkenazi said. “However, even more importantly, at long last this award recognizes the contribution of scientists and technologists to society in terms of satellite positioning, navigation and timing.”
Vidal has been involved with the geodetic aspects of positioning by using satellites from the earliest days. In 1976 he was invited by the U.S. National Geodetic Survey (NGS) to assist with the development of geodetic coordinate systems, the framework that is still used today by satellite navigation (satnav) and mapping systems.
Ashkenazi was an academic at the University of Nottingham from 1965 to 1998, and the founding director of the Institute of Engineering Surveying and Space Geodesy, one of the leading space geodesy research institutes in the world. He supervised around 50 doctoral (Ph.D.) students, many of whom now occupy senior positions in universities and industry around the world.
In the late 1990s, Ashkenazi became aware that, although GPS was designed and developed as a military system, its main advantage to the U.S. was economic. This was the message he delivered when he was invited in 2003 to address the Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels, and hence the need for the European Union to have its own satellite navigation system. Europe’s Galileo system entered into service in December 2016.
Following his academic career, Ashkenazi founded Nottingham Scientific Ltd (NSL) to commercialize the innovation and expertise developed and Nottingham and other UK universities.
Vidal Ashkenazi, who has doctorates in philosophy and physical science from Oxford University, is a member of a large number of professional organizations, and has received distinction awards from several of them, most notably the Royal Institute of Navigation.
He has published several hundred papers in professional journals, and acted as a consultant to a large number of government and commercial organizations in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Vidal Ashkenazi is a recognized figure on the international scene of conferences and congresses, to which he is invited regularly either to deliver keynote presentations or to organize and chair round-table panel discussions.
He is also a long-standing member of the GPS World Editorial Advisory Board.