PISCES and DLIR Partner for Summer Internship Program

Posted on Jun 8, 2017 in News

Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems
For Immediate Release: June 8, 2017

Five Students Begin Full-time Work at PISCES in Robotics, Materials Science

HILO—The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) and Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ (DLIR) Workforce Division have partnered to employ five university students this summer in aerospace research and development jobs on Hawaii Island.

The joint workforce initiative partners PISCES’ Summer Internship Program and DLIR’s Workforce Experience Position. Through the 10-week program, participating interns will receive a full-time paid salary and fringe benefits, while gaining hands-on experience through two research and development projects with PISCES: Robotics and Materials Science.

“I’m excited for this partnership with DLIR to employ this year’s group of summer interns at PISCES,” said Rodrigo Romo, PISCES program director. “These students will learn valuable skills and experience through this unique program, and gain an edge to excel in the competitive career fields of science and technology.”

Robotics students will work with PISCES staff to program and develop hardware systems aboard the Hilo-based agency’s Helelani planetary rover. These systems include navigation, graphic user interfaces, imaging, communications, telemetry and mechanics. Their work will culminate in a field test mission—designed by the interns themselves—at a planetary analog site on Hawaii Island to assess the rover’s system upgrades.

Working closely with PISCES staff, Materials Science students will research novel construction applications using volcanic basalt. Hawaii’s basalt closely resembles lunar and Martian regolith (dirt). Student interns will directly participate in the design and test phase of ISRU (in-situ resource utilization) methods using basalt that could enable the construction of habitats, landing pads and other infrastructure on the Moon and/or Mars. Their efforts will also aid in developing a useful way to create basalt-based construction materials that be used in Hawaii. Basalt-based building materials could benefit the state by creating a new industry based on sustainable, locally-sourced resources.

Both groups of student interns will complete the program with a final presentation to local representatives, educators and members of the community.

“I look forward to hearing from the interns about their experience,” said DLIR Director Linda Chu Takayama. “The best training comes from real-life work experience that applies what students learn in school, and a well-trained workforce, which will give Hawaii its competitive edge in today’s fast-paced global economy.”

PISCES has mentored 31 university and college students from Hawaii and other states since 2013. Working with PISCES staff and other experts in aerospace-related fields, students strengthen and apply their classroom knowledge through hands-on experience in robotics, computer programming, planetary geology and materials science. Participating students get a chance to publish the results of their work in scientific journals, gaining a foothold in professional science world prior to graduation.

In addition to work experience and mentorship, interns forge valuable connections in the aerospace industry through their work with PISCES. Former PISCES interns have landed jobs at competitive companies like Google and Apple Computers, as well as internships at cutting-edge organizations like NASA and Honeybee Robotics.

Under the joint PISCES-DLIR partnership, student interns will be hired and paid by DLIR to conduct a total of 2,000 working hours with PISCES during the summer months of 2017. The program began on June 5 and will continue through mid-August.

PISCES is a state-funded Hawaii aerospace center under the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT). The Hilo-based agency is working to position the state as a leader in space exploration while developing sustainable products and technologies that benefit the Islands. Through Applied Research, Workforce Development, and Long-Term Business and Economic Development, PISCES provides hands-on experience to Hawaii’s future scientists and engineers, preparing them to meet the demands of a highly competitive industry while improving the local economy through job diversification, innovative products and new industries.

About DLIR (Department of Labor and Industrial Relations)
DLIR administers workforce development activities in coordination with economic development and education to build a pipeline of local talent for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and other high-skilled, high-wage occupations.

About DBEDT (Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism)
DBEDT is Hawaii’s resource center for economic and statistical data, business development opportunities, energy and conservation information, and foreign trade advantages. DBEDT’s mission is to achieve a Hawaii economy that embraces innovation and is globally competitive, dynamic and productive, providing opportunities for all Hawaii’s citizens. Through its attached agencies, the department fosters planned community development, creates affordable workforce housing units in high-quality living environments, and promotes innovation sector job growth.

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Media Contacts:
Chris Yoakum
Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems
Phone: (808) 935-8270
Mobile: (808) 333-6905
Website: pisces.hawaii.gov

Christine Hirasa
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
Phone: (808) 587-9006
Mobile: (808) 286-9017
Website: dbedt.hawaii.gov