A Cure for the Summertime Blues

How many high school students can say they worked on an underwater robot or a satellite that will be launched into space next year?

Probably none, unless you happen to be Kailua High School students Nick Rodin and Stuart Akagi or former Maui High School student Cyrus Camp. These three participated in the second year of the University of Hawaii College of Engineering's High School Internship Program.

Nick Rodin worked on the CubeSat Tracking, Telemetry, and Command team.

The internship enables high school students to take a closer look at engineering and what it can accomplish. In the two years of the program's existence, it has brought students from around the state to spend part of their summer at the College of Engineering. This year's students enjoyed working on a few of the College's top projects. Placement was based on interests and academic skills, and each student was under the guidance of faculty advisors and engineering student mentors.

Kailua's Nick Rodin worked on CubeSat, a low-Earth nanosatellite having a mass of 1 kilogram and a volume of 1000 cubic centimeters. The primary purpose of CubeSat is to gather thermal data, send it to Earth, and receive commands sent from Earth. It is one of the most ambitious student-led projects in the history of the UH. More than 50 electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering students are involved in the design, construction, and testing of CubeSat.

Nick said he someday wanted to work on wireless systems and satellites, so it was natural for him to be placed in the Tracking, Telemetry, and Command (TTC) team with electrical engineering graduate student and team leader Nathan Higashi. The TTC team is responsible for all satellite communications on the satellite and on the ground. Nick assisted the TTC team with the construction and testing of prototype antennas to be used in CubeSat.

Said Nick, "It was a fun and educational experience. I was impressed by the hospitality and knowledge of those mentoring me throughout the internship."

Stuart giving his presentation about his work in the ICML.

Stuart Akagi, also from Kailua, worked with mechanical engineering associate professor Dr. Mehrdad Ghasemi Nejhad in the Intelligent and Composite Materials Laboratory (ICML) and Advanced Materials Manufacturing Laboratory (AMML). The ICML is used to design, analyze, manufacture, and test structures and systems to provide simultaneous precision position control and vibration suppression capabilities for military and civilian space vehicles and structures. The AMML aids in the design, analysis, manufacture, and testing of structures and systems using advanced materials.

In the ICML, Stuart aided Dr. Kougen Ma with his intelligent composite materials research. Engineering undergraduate Randy Sakagawa taught Stuart the AutoCAD program, which is used by many engineers for designs. One of Stuart's tasks was to help create some AutoCad drawing for CubeSat. In the AMML, he helped Dr. Richard Russ and graduate student Djordje Djokovic manufacture materials for use in smart composite materials.

"Working at UH made be realize what the College of Engineering can offer. I thought the better engineering schools were on the mainland, but after working here, I realize that UH has an exceptional engineering program, too," Stuart said.

Maui's Cyrus Camp, now a freshman at the University of Hawaii College of Engineering, helped with two projects over the summer, CubeSat and ODIN (Omni Directional Intelligent Navigator). For CubeSat, Cyrus was a member of the Power Distribution Group, which is responsible for developing and monitoring the power system. He aided electrical engineering student Derek Rompasky in the development of the CubeSat fuel gauge.

Cyrus working on the fuel gauge for CubeSat.

Said Cyrus, "CubeSat was the first reason I participated in the internship program. I wanted to work on a satellite, which I thought was really cool. I thought to myself, 'I just graduated high school, I shouldn't have an opportunity like this.'"

Cyrus was also able to spend time in the Autonomous Systems Laboratory. There he worked with Drs. Song Choi and Hyun-Taek Choi. Cyrus worked on ODIN, which is a small underwater robot used to test systems such as sonar, thrusters, and controlling software. He used AutoCAD to draft electrical schematics of ODIN, created computer programs using C and C++ programming languages, and helped test ODIN.

According to Cyrus, the summer internship helped him adjust to the college environment, make many new friends, and just have fun. "This internship was great. I had a lot of fun and gained valuable experience," Cyrus said.

On the last day of their internships, the students shared their experiences in front of their parents, their high school counselors, the Dean of the College of Engineering, department chairs, and their faculty and student mentors. Each gave a PowerPoint presentation about his summer experiences. Afterward a luncheon was held in their honor.

Cyrus, Nick, and Stuart all agreed it was a great experience for them and they encouraged other students to take advantage of the internship. Said Stuart, "It was fun coming to work everyday and just talking with people and working on my projects. I hope other high school students next year can take advantage of this internship."


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