Category Archives: STEM

STEM gets a $6.8M boost from USA Funds

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.

Univ. of Hawaii Tech Showcase

UH_tech 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.

2015 SOEST Open House

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.

Pixar in a Box

  PIBLogoAntialiased On Bytemarks Cafe this past Wed. September 16, 2015, we got a chance to talk to the new Director of DBEDT (Dept. of Business, Economic Development and Tourism) Luis Salaveria and Georja Skinner, Chief Officer of the Creative Industries Division, about several initiatives including broadband, tech entrepreneurship and energy. But one that caught my attention was related to STEM or a hybrid called STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). Although we've been covering STEM topics for years, from VEX and First Robotics, Science Olympiad, Science Fair, Sea Perch, GenCyber, etc, this was the first time the A was emphasized in association with a well known brand, Pixar. Pixar in a Box, a unique partnering between Pixar and Khan Academy, is a new online resource that explores the academic concepts behind Pixar Animation Studios’ creative process. Through a series of video lessons, interactive exercises, and hands-on activities, students will discover how the academic concepts they learn in school enable Pixar filmmakers to create new worlds, animate unique characters and tell stories through animation. Although designed especially for students in middle and high school, these resources are available to learners of all ages, completely free of charge. According to Georja Skinner, 37 teachers in the Dept of Education have been been selected to incorporate the course material into their classes. Unlike some of the other STEM programs like robotics, which require after school time by the students and teachers, Pixar in a Box will get integrated in the class curriculum. Teachers interested beyond the initial 37 need only contact DBEDT as more teachers will be added as the curriculum grows. Salaveria feels strongly that the A for Arts incorporated into STEAM is a key differentiator for Hawaii students introducing a creative arts discipline into the technology and engineering pathway. If done correctly could give Hawaii students an edge over traditional STEM learning. With Pixar in a Box students can learn:
  • How combinatorics are used to create crowds, like the swarm of robots in WALL'E.
  • How parabolas are used to model environments, like the forest in Brave.
  • How weighted averages are used to create characters, like Buzz Lightyear and Woody.
  • How linear and cubic interpolation are used to animate characters.
  • How trigonometry is used to create the worlds in which Pixar stories take place.
  • How simultaneous equations are used to paint all of Pixar’s images.
Pixar in a Box is free and while the first year focuses on math, future Pixar in a Box lessons will explore science, computer science, arts, and humanities. It will be interesting to see how this new curriculum impacts students as they progress through their education and onto their professional ambitions. I will keep an eye and report back on this development.


The Inaugural STEM Week Luncheon The inaugural STEM Week Awards were given out last week, celebrating the achievements of 14 high and middle schools in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). For the first time, diverse fields like VEX Robotics, FIRST Robotics, Science Olympiad, the Hawai‘i State Science & Engineering Fair, and CyberPatriot were recognized in a single awards ceremony. On hand was Hawaii's senior Senator, Daniel K. Inouye. In his keynote address, Senator Inouye recognized the importance of STEM and its contribution to the competitiveness of Hawaii’s students. He reflected on his humble public school upbringing and how, only in America, he could fight the stereotype of a Japanese-American during WWII to achieve his current position as the President pro tempore of the Senate. Inouye said in a statement: “I arrived home to Hawai‘i last night and was pleased that my first event was to participate in the STEM Week Awards Lunch. It warmed my heart to see bright young students and their committed teachers and principals. Hawai‘i has much to be proud of and to be hopeful about. We should not sell ourselves short. Our future is in good hands.” The inaugural STEM Week Awards also featured the first Daniel K. Inouye Award for Commitment to STEM Education, which went to Hawaiian Electric Company. The award is given to an individual or organization that demonstrated leadership in Hawaii's STEM educational initiatives by ensuring continued access to STEM programs statewide. As a bonus feature Doug Matsuoka caught me at the entrance to the STEM Week Luncheon and reversed the roles on me by asking me a few questions about this event.