.Several Honolulu College students had the thrill of a lifetime this month, when they got to see a project they worked launched into space from Virginia on a rocket.
The students were part of a team from HonCC and three other community colleges in Hawaii who worked together on Project Imua, a joint faculty-student enterprise for designing, fabricating and testing payloads.
The UH team was the only community college team whose payload was selected for this launch. Payloads developed by students from seven higher education programs were aboard the rocket.
“We can do anything just like anywhere else in the world. We have facilities and we have come so far. Project Imua means to move forward and we have definitely moved forward,” HonCC student SurajMehta said.
Added Debora Pei, a recent graduate of HonCC, “The excellent progress we have made with Project Imua demonstrates how, with adequate funding and solid opportunities, Hawaiʻi students can compete side-by-side with other great minds all across the country.”
Pei, who just completed her Associate Arts degree in the spring and is majoring in mechanical engineering, 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 UH campuses on different islands.
The scientific instrument that forms the main component of Project Imua’s payload consists of a UV spectrometer that will analyze the intensity of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation before it enters Earth’s atmosphere. The data could have implications regarding climate.
Honolulu CC students designed the payload’s electronic circuitry for power and data collection and transmission.
After achieving an altitude of 94-miles, plans were for the payload with the students’ experiments to be recovered in the Atlantic Ocean off the Virginia coast. The experiments and any stored data would then be provided to the teams to analyze.
“It’s been a long trip. It’s taken nine months to get here, so it’s really exciting that we are finally getting a launch that’s the culmination of what we’ve been working for,” added Windward CC student Cale Mechler.