The Electronics Technology program at Hawaiʻi Community College is undergoing big changes, with new equipment, a revised curriculum and exciting projects. Also, renovation work has just begun on the electronics classroom and lab.

“The emphasis in the program has been changed to be more industrial,” said electronics Instructor Bernard “Chip” Michels. “So the whole idea here is to focus more on the telecommunications and on the process and controls arena, or automation.”

It’s all part of an effort to give electronics students the skills they need to succeed in today’s job market.

“The way Chip runs it is starting with the fundamentals,” said Jack Anderson, a student in the electronics program. “So you’ve got all the components like transistors and integrated circuits, and as we build through the program you go into the applications like telecommunications, the things that make our cell phones and internet connections work. But it’s also the industrial side of things, so your power and water utilities. It’s all covered and controlled by electronics.”

Efforts to modernize the program have been helped with a $96,000 grant that was used to purchase new equipment.

“We’re using state-of-the-art. We’re using what’s very much out in the field right now,” said Michels.

Special projects give students exciting ways to apply their newfound knowledge. Several students recently helped build a robot and went to Florida to compete in the 2017 NASA Robotic Mining Competition.

“Really fun time,” said Anderson. “Flew over to Kennedy Space Center to do that project.”

Students are currently working on a project with the Hawaiʻi CC agriculture program to automate the program’s greenhouse irrigation system.

“I believe that the knowledge and skills they learn here can be applicable anywhere,” said Michels. “And that is my goal, to make them a little more universal.”

Some graduates of the electronics program transfer to four-year campuses like the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo to earn their bachelor’s degree.

“The upper campus runs a computer science program, so I’m going to transfer there and finish my undergraduate,” says Anderson.

Instructors and students with finished electronics project