A group of aspiring scientists from the University of Hawaii’s community college system created a school project that is literally out of this world. They are currently at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia this month for the August 11 launch of a project they designed.
NASA gave them a two-year, $500,000 grant to execute Project Imua, a joint faculty-student initiative. Sixteen students from Kauai Community College, Honolulu Community College, Kapiolani Community College and Windward Community College designed and build data-collecting tools to analyze the intensity of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation before it enters Earth’s atmosphere.
Debora Pei just completed her Associate Arts degree at Honolulu Community College in the spring. She is majoring in mechanical engineering, and part of Project Imua. Pei worked on photo sensors for Project Imua Payload (PIP) and was one of five females on the team.
She says it took “a lot of e-mail” to coordinate between team members, who hail from four different University of Hawai’i community colleges on different islands.
Project Imua comes from the only community college in the nation to be awarded a spot aboard the launch. She feels this speaks to the University of Hawai’i System’s focus on promoting STEM education: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.