The Intersection of Science, Technology and Culture

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STEM gets a $6.8M boost from USA Funds

January 8th, 2016 · STEM


UH President David Lassner, Sen. Michelle Kidani, USA Funds Executive VP Carol D’Amico, Hawaii Gov. David Ige, and Project Lead The Way Senior VP David Dimmett

Back on October 28, 2015, USA Funds announced a $4.6M grant to the University of Hawaii, to help build Hawaii’s innovation economy, boost the STEM workforce pipeline and reverse the “brain drain” of talent leaving the state.

Today’s announcement included the $4.6M to UH and an additional $2.2M to the non-profit Project Lead the Way which provides project-based learning experiences for K–12 students and teachers across all 50 states. The grant to PLTW will help at least 48 Hawaii high schools implement programs in computer science, engineering or biomedical science. Also as a part of the initiative, Project Lead The Way will provide professional development support to teachers and work with local partners to ensure the materials and programs are culturally relevant.

USA Funds’ grant of $4.6 million to the University of Hawaii Foundation will support several initiatives, including the following:

  • Develop models of statewide industry, government and higher education collaboration to determine current and future workforce needs.
  • Create a continuous academic pathway in STEM education.
  • Support economic development and high-quality job creation in innovation and STEM areas of the state’s economy through just-in-time workforce development.
  • Enhance Hawaii’s student information system to inform students and advisers of the most efficient education pathways, especially for STEM degrees.
  • Create best practices in statewide workforce and education data collection and integration to help drive decisions by policymakers, education leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Create a STEM Center for Excellence that will serve as a resource to sustain STEM-related activities across the state.

With a workforce development pipeline, STEM curriculum development and the data to assess our progress, the hope is that Hawaii will be able to be competitive in the high-wage and high-demand science, technology, math and engineering fields.

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Co-working space opens on Maui

January 1st, 2016 · news


There’s a new co-working space opening up on Maui at the Maui Research & Technology Center (MRTC). If you are on Maui or planning a trip there on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, you can catch the open house at 590 Lipoa Parkway from 4pm – 7pm.

Robbie Melton, Executive Director and CEO of the High Tech Development Corp (HTDC) will kick off the evening with a talk on New Money for Your Business. She is making an island hopping informational tour to promote a new HTDC program called the Neighbor Island Innovation Initiative (NI3), that will offer business, technical help and mentorship not readily available to technology-related small businesses on the neighbor islands. The goal is to help accelerate efforts in product development, sales or investment in those companies. She also plans to announce three new grant programs including:

  • Hawaii Small Business Innovation Research (HSBIR) grants to develop new technologies and innovations. The state’s grant fund is expanding Phase II and Phase III awards to match up to 50 percent up to $500,000.
  • Manufacturing Assistance Program (MAP) grants that offer a 20 percent reimbursement, up to $100,000, on purchasing manufacturing equipment, training and energy-efficiency projects.
  • Hawaii Office of Naval Research (HONR) grants that offer up to 50 percent matching funds for alternative energy research and development projects.

This is an ideal opportunity to not only check out the new co-working space but to also learn about these new funding programs. For more information please visit HTDC.Org.

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iLab opening soon at UH Manoa

December 11th, 2015 · innovation, maker, robotics



What was once the headquarters for the Information Technology Services group on the University of Hawaii, Manoa campus, Building 37 is soon to become the iLab. Inspired by Stanford University’s D.School, the iLab will be a hub for innovation and design thinking on campus. Back in July 2015, this video was produced to provide a virtual tour of what the iLab would look like.

The iLab is still under construction so what you see here will change over the next few weeks. I was fortunate to get a quick tour of the facility this past week. When completed, there are plans to hold classes, build a maker space equipped with 3D printers and provide a space for interdisciplinary innovation. The intent is to also include commercial business collaborations to help solve real world problems.

In conjunction with the iLab, a design thinking course is going through curriculum approval for the UH Manoa campus. Design thinking isn’t something new to Hawaii. Back in 2011, local R&D company Oceanit spearheaded the adoption of design thinking concepts in Hawaii’s Department of Education. This spread from the DOE to government departments, UH departments, commercial businesses and even the non-profit sector. This however is the first time an actual credited course in design thinking will be offered at UH.

A tentative date of January 20, 2016 is the target for the grand opening of the iLab. The closer we get to the date, the more I am hearing people talk about it. We’ve scheduled an upcoming interview with the course developer and a professor from the College of Engineering to talk about the iLab and how it will be used. Tune into Bytemarks Cafe on Hawaii Public Radio on Dec 23rd to catch that conversation.


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Frontiers of Astronomy: Exoplanets

November 24th, 2015 · astronomy


The Institute for Astronomy presents Frontiers in Astronomy: Exoplanets. This panel features experts in the fields of astrobiology and exoplanets, including Andrew Howard, Nader Haghighipour, Paul Kalas, and Josh Winn.

This event is free and open to the public:

  • Wed, December 2, 2015, 7:30pm
  • UH Manoa, Art Auditorium
  • Friends of the Institute for Astronomy Reception, 6:30pm


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Slideshow: Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology – Coconut Island

November 22nd, 2015 · ocean, science

HIMB - Coconut Island

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LAVA: Laboratory for Advanced Visualization Applications

October 31st, 2015 · cyberinfrastructure, innovation, Internet

IMG_6290Take your shoes off before entering the Laboratory for Advanced Visualization Applications (LAVA). Jason Leigh’s environment for visualizing big data is like going into his home, or more accurately his CyberCANOE. You wouldn’t wear shoes in there either. Coincidentally, CANOE is a back-ronym for Collaboration Analysis Navigation & Observation Environment.

The first thing you will notice as you enter LAVA is the 18-panel flat screen monitors which make up the CyberCANOE. You can think of this as your huge computer monitor. Imagine collaborating on your Mac or PC and you and your team being able to drag and drop windows from your desktop to the CyberCANOE. The software that enables this is called SAGE2 (Scalable Amplified Group Environment). SAGE2 is an open-source middleware that provides multiple users with a common operating environment to access, display, and share an assortment of data intensive information.

IMG_6281The intent is to enable teams to collaborate together or remotely by sharing large volumes of information on high resolution screens. The world of big data is greatly enhanced by the ability to visualize unique qualities of that data. For example if you could take the Twitter firehose, perform a word analysis by geolocation, you could then visualize the sentiment of a political debate across the country. That is just one example, there are applications in fluid dynamics, climate interactions, space debris mapping, etc. not to mention virtual reality environments.

LAVA is open for both the academic and business community to use. Their open house was on Friday October 30, 2015 and work is underway to establish CyberCANOEs in other locations like the University of Hawaii – West Oahu. Also work is being done to bring the next generation CAVE-2 to Hawaii. Check out more photos on Flickr.


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Fashion + Tech with Anouk Wipprecht

October 28th, 2015 · art, events, technology Hawaii business


This rare opportunity to directly experience the nexus between tech and fashion is coming to Hawaii featuring Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht. Sixteen local fashion designers will create Fashion+Tech designs with Anouk Wippprecht during the workshop event.

  • Workshop dates: Nov. 10, 11 & 12, 2015
  • Time: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Location: Manoa Innovation Center, Ideation Room

Organizers are looking for volunteers able to support teams with programming hardware like arduinos or other devices (teensyoctoneopixelsxbee), coding and soldering. Contact HiCapacity (Aisis Chen or Noah Hafner) if you can assist.

  • Fashion show will follow: Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015
  • Time: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Location: Modern Hotel

These events are free. Additional information about the workshop and fashion show can be found here.

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Univ. of Hawaii Tech Showcase

October 20th, 2015 · science, STEM


The University of Hawaii is showcasing four new technologies at a breakfast on October 22, 7:45am to 10am at the Banker’s Club downtown.

The presenters will include:

  • Cyber-CANOE 3D virtual reality environment: Jason Leigh of Information and Computer Sciences
  • Anatomical 3D models on the zSpace virtual reality platform: Jesse Thompson of the John A. Burns School of Medicine
  • Telescope mirror technology for the solar industry: Jeff Kuhn of MorphOptic and the Institute for Astronomy
  • Realistic brain phantom for MRI research and development: Kyoko Fujimoto and Trent Robertson, Electrical Engineering graduate students

The Tech Showcase is presented by the UH Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development (OTTED), XLR8UH, and the College of Engineering with support from First Hawaiian Bank.

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Open Access Week 2015

October 13th, 2015 · open, open data


Open Access Week kicks off on October 19, 2015 across the country and here at home the University of Hawaii will host a number of events. This year’s lineup includes:

  • Creative Commons Licensing
  • Make Your Work Open in ScholarSpace
  • Open Government Resources and Government Funded Open Mandates
  • Launching an Open Access Journal
  • Open Collaboration with GitHub
  • Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Author Rights
  • Learn How to Contribute to Wikipedia

Anyone interested in free access to scientific documents and research papers or learning how to publish to open access repositories like Scholar Space will want to attend these sessions. Registration is free although you may have to pay for parking on campus.


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2015 SOEST Open House

October 10th, 2015 · STEM

SOEST-Open-House-2015-flyerMark your calendars for:

  • Friday, October 23, 8:30 am – 2 pm
  • Saturday, October 24, 10 am – 2 pm

The SOEST Open House presents a diverse array of entertaining and educational “hands-on” activities, which highlight the research conducted by their faculty and staff. This event also only occurs once every two years so you won’t want to miss this.

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