Native Hawaiian Interns at LLNL

The Sky is the Limit for Adaptive Optics Interns from Hawaii

Doug Knight, ALU LIKE

In the thin air on the summit of Mauna Kea, two ALU LIKE Native Hawaiian interns from CfAO visited Keck Observatory to tour the telescope and the Adaptive Optics (AO) system. For Edward Akana II and Kehau Apana, the November 2000 visit was the conclusion to a 6-month hands-on field experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Their special assignments were with LLNL's Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics group. The Keck tour gave them the opportunity to meet informally with observatory staff as prospective future technicians, to get exposure to research, and to expand their own educational horizons.

These field assignments are part of an internship program sponsored by the CfAO with assistance from LLNL. The program, now in its second year, is integrated with other CfAO activities through LLNL's Claire Max. Marjorie Gonzalez at LLNL is the founder and manager of the program, in coordination with this correspondent, Doug Knight of ALU LIKE, Inc.

ALU LIKE, Inc., the name means "working together", serves Native Hawaiians by providing vocational education, training, and employment. The agency assists participants to gain social and economic self-sufficiency using an approach grounded in traditional Hawaiian values and culture. The correspondent is employed by ALU LIKE. He does the recruiting and screening for future CfAO interns in Hawaii and help to find them on-the-job training opportunities upon their return to the island. In addition, he has researched the role of technology in Native Hawaiian culture and developed a presentation showing the high respect that was historically accorded to new technologies by cultural leaders in the Hawaiian community.

Preparing Versatile Technicians:

The CfAO's project with ALU LIKE aims to provide Native Hawaiians with hands-on field experience, build technical skills, and mentor interns to prepare them for technician positions in scientific research and development environments. Upon completion of the internship at LLNL, the project links them to on-the-job training positions in Hawaii and encourages them to further their college education. The overlapping mission between ALU LIKE, the CfAO, and LLNL is to promote high tech careers for Native Hawaiians, enabling their full participation in the technical workforce in Hawaii and its astronomomical observatories.

Trainees are required to complete a "versatech" core training course before commencing field work. The "versatech" core training provides basic knowledge skills in a range of technologies and certifications, including fiber optics and category 5 cable fabrication and installation, AUTOCAD 2000 computer design, machine shop, and use of various electro-mechanical, opto-mechanical, and electro-optical equipment. It also gives them practice in using database, spreadsheet, and graphic applications. They are required to keep a journal and provide regular reports to Marjorie Gonzalez on their progress and impressions. The later field experience provides the AO interns with hands-on skill electronic component building experiences, using one-on-one mentoring by the scientists and technolo-gists within LLNL.
Claire Max, Associate Directory for Technology CfAO and Lisa Hunter, Associate Director for Education and Community Partnerships visit Keck Observatory with the Interns.

Interns' Assignments: After completing this core versatech training, each intern worked at special assignments under mentors on projects related to adaptive optics for the Shane Telescope at Lick Observatory.

Ed Akana, from Papakolea Hawaiian Homestead in urban Honolulu, came to LLNL as a student attending Honolulu Community College's Computer Electronics Networking Technology Program. His special project involved assisting the LLNL AO team by researching, evaluating, selecting, and programming a hardware platform for an intelligent camera system that operates laser correction instrumentation. He defined an embedded system that would interface with the metrology system and presented his evaluation to the AO team, which approved and adopted his recommendation. Ed then assisted with developing the application for this system that corrects the image of the laser created guide star used to correct upper atmosphere distortions for telescopes using AO systems.

Kahau Apana, from Nanakuli, Oahu, came to his CfAO internship with four years of high school electronics, and a year of experience as a classroom Education Assistant to his former high school electronics teacher. Kehau's assignment involved improving the adaptive optics bench mounted to the Shane telescope at Lick Observatory. He assisted in integrating three Galil motor controllers with serial cable connections, allowing fewer commands to initialize movement of the Filter Wheel Controllers. This project involved disassembly and reassembly of the very compact AO bench, that necessitated approximately a month's effort. Kehau also designed and manufactured two power supplies for four actuator motor controllers. Working with the AO team, he honed his machine tech and electronics skills as he learned to cope with evolving design specifications and delays in arrival of parts. Both Ed and Kehau assisted with astronomy observation runs using the AO system at Lick Observatory, Mt. Hamilton CA.

During the 6 month internship at LLNL, Ed remained enrolled at Honolulu Community College and earned cooperative education credits for the field experience. Upon his return to Hawaii, Ed resumed his final semester at HCC, CENT program and will subsequently commence a six month on-the-Job training position. Ed says that he gained a wide range of technical skills, exposure to the latest technology developments, and a clear perspective on the field of study that he intends to pursue for his bachelor and graduate degrees in Information & Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. One of the goals of the internship project is to clarify career choices.
Kehau and Ed at work

Ed Akana says:

"My experience was something that I could not have fathomed before. I have gained confidence in the pursuit of my goals, and now have the ambition to attain a BA in Computer Science and a MS in Electrical Engineering after completing my AS degree. Perhaps the greatest assets to the field of Adaptive Optics are the people engaged in the success of this technology. My future successes through out my life will be attributed to these same people." Claire Max, Associate Director for Technology CfAO and Lisa Hunter Associate Director for Education and Community Partnerships visit Keck Observatory with the Interns.

I have gained confidence in the pursuit of my goals.

Ed Arkana


Page last revised on: Monday, 20-Aug-2007 16:35:08 PDT