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.
Moon RIDERS: Research Investigating Dust Expulsion Removal Systems is a unique collaboration that involves NASA, PISCES, Google Lunar XPrize, Dept of Education, Iolani High School and Kealakehe High School. It's rare to have such a diverse public private partnership involving a public and private school, and MoonRIDERS is being touted as a first for Hawaii. Both schools have an opportunity to build and operate an experiment on the surface of the moon. Interestingly, a major problem with extraterrestrial landings is dust. Eons of dust, layer upon layer of this fine as flour, rough as sandpaper particles, get kicked up during a landing and can cause havoc with equipment and flight suits. This became evident to NASA since our first lunar landings. NASA researchers like Carlos Calle worked to refine a method to remove surface dust called Electrodynamic Dust Shield (EDS). Using a phase shifted alternating current the EDS moved the dust particles off the surface of glass. This dust shield is just one aspect of the mission student teams from Iolani and Kealakehe will test. The EDS unit needs to be mounted to the base of a lunar lander but in order to get an assessment of it's relative position an entire mockup of the lander needs to be fabricated. The Iolani team using their maker facility at Sullivan Center fabricated a quarter size mockup of the Astrobotic Lunar Rover called the Griffin. The Kealakehe team is working on an alternative rover designed by EarthRise Space Foundation. Both teams started at the beginning of this academic year (Sept 2014) and are now at the stage of an engineering field test in March 2015 on Mauna Kea at a PISCES test site. During the March field test the mockups will go through a series of tests to simulate a lunar landing. They teams will also have a chance to test the EDS and make recommendations on how to measure its performance. In addition to fabrication and testing the teams also engage in outreach as STEM ambassadors. Both the Iolani and Kealakehe teams have MoonRIDERS websites and social media sites including Twitter and Instagram. The Iolani team consist primarily of junior and senior level students but part of their mission is to introduce the project to lower school 3rd graders at Iolani and eventual take the show on the road to other schools. This outreach effort is important since MoonRIDERS will outlast some of the students currently involved as they graduate from school. The timeline for the launch date is late 2016. But even after the launch, the hope is there will be future payload projects that will involve Hawaii high school teams, a critical role for PISCES and NASA as the enabler. Rob Kelso, Executive Director of PISCES said, "For students to go into an interview for college or job and be able to say they were part of a flight experiment that today is sitting on the surface of the Moon. What a testimony to their hard work!" Now the goal is to get more Hawaii students into this STEM pipeline, to share in this game changing experience and to create high value 21st century skills. Additional Links:
In preparation for a piece on gadgets for emergency preparedness on Hawaii News Now, I rolled down the hill to the Pearl City Industrial Park for a visit with Mike Bond and his shop Ti2Design. We had him on the radio show the week prior talking about Kickstarter and he mentioned one big unknown he eliminated was to do his own manufacturing in-house. It is quite impressive what this shop can produce. He showed me some custom gears he was making for Hawaiian Electric and a grenade launcher, part of a brief foray into the Dept of Defense's world of non-lethal weapons. Mike admitted that his true love is making his own designs, items that include the Ti2 Pen, Sentinel, the Torq bottle opener and the Ti2 Para-Biner. The slideshow features various milling machines, a water cutter, polishers and drills. The most impressive is this turnmill used to produce the Sentinel Cache. This video gives you a sense of what is involved. One Sentinel gets created in about 30 minutes. His next project is another variation on the Ti2 Pen. There's a lot if ideas brewing in head and I am also hoping Mike participates in the upcoming Honolulu Mini Maker Faire.