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Students standing with robot

Students Andrew Hasegawa, right, and Jack Andersen, center, will intern at PISCES this fall.

To provide students with hands-on experience in computer programming and robotics work, The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES)—a state-funded aerospace agency—and Hawaiʻi Community College has launched a new credit-based internship program. The program will develop Hawaiʻi’s skilled labor workforce by offering college students high-tech learning opportunities while earning classroom credit.

Two Hawaiʻi CC students will participate in the new program during the fall 2017 semester, earning hour-for-hour classroom credit towards their degrees. Andrew Hasegawa and Jack Andersen, both electronics technology majors, will design and develop an autonomous navigation system for the PISCES planetary rover Helelani, enabling the 700-pound robot to drive itself. The students will also develop a delivery system for an unmanned aerial vehicle to mitigate little fire ant populations in tree canopies—a PISCES project in partnership with the Hawaiʻi Ant Lab.

Although classroom learning is invaluable for foundational knowledge, it can at times be lacking in more realistic problem-solving scenarios. This internship provides me with hands-on situations that I’m sure will serve me well in my overall education and future employment opportunities.
—Andrew Hasegawa

Both students are already familiar with the Helelani rover’s configuration since developing the robot’s software and hardware systems during PISCES’ 10-week internship program this summer.

“Although classroom learning is invaluable for foundational knowledge, it can at times be lacking in more realistic problem-solving scenarios,” said Hasegawa. “This internship provides me with hands-on situations that I’m sure will serve me well in my overall education and future employment opportunities.”

PISCES and Hawaiʻi CC intend to make the credit-based internship an ongoing program to provide unique learning opportunities for Hawaiʻi college students outside of the classroom.

“I am very happy to be working closely with Hawaiʻi Community College to provide students the opportunity to practice and improve the skills they learn in the classroom,” said PISCES Program Manager Rodrigo Romo. “At PISCES we are committed to providing Hawaiʻi’s youth with as many tools and opportunities as possible to meet the demands of the growing high tech industry in the Islands.”

Hawaiʻi Community College believes that preparing our students for the jobs of the 21st century goes beyond our classrooms,” said Hawaiʻi CC Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas. “Along with industry partners like PISCES, we can provide academic rigor in internship-based courses and programs. I am amazed with students’ testimony about their place-based learning experiences and their enthusiasm in applying their skills to the real world.”

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