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six students at competition
CanSat Competition 2019 in Stephenville, Texas from left to right: Kurt Matillano, Suntana Villanueva, Alexander T. Meyer, Preston Rodrigues, Jhaymar Mendez, Kyle Rayo. (students’ names in bold also participated in this year’s 2020 CanSat Competition)

At the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, it IS rocket science! The college’s Engineering Technology Program fielded two teams in the international 2020 CanSat Competition. Team Onipaʻa placed first, and Team Pakaʻa, placed 23rd. (See complete team rosters below.) Thirty-three teams from more than a dozen countries competed to design, build and launch a container holding a science payload.

Jung Park, UH Maui College engineering technology associate professor and NASA Hawaiʻi Space Grant Consortium, who was the faculty advisor, said, “The CanSat competition is designed to reflect, on a small scale, a typical aerospace program. The competition includes all aspects of an aerospace program from the preliminary design review to post-mission review. The mission and its requirements are designed to reflect various aspects of real world missions. This includes the telemetry requirements, communications and autonomous operations.”

This year’s launch, scheduled to take place at Virginia Tech in June, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s entries were judged on all criteria except for launch.

“The CanSat project was an excellent way for us to showcase all that we have learned at UHMC,” said Team Onipaʻa leader, Arthur Agdeppa. “It pushed us to be creative on our CanSat design, be resilient on failures, be a team player, and be receptive to the process involved in creating a real-world engineering project. It was a great learning experience overall.”

Team Pakaʻa leader, Alexander Meyer, said, “CanSat Competition was an extraordinary opportunity for the members of my team to gain aerospace industry experience. They rapidly adjusted to working in a collaborative environment and learned how to rely on one another to work towards a greater goal. Their effort paid off and earned them a seat amongst the finalists of the prestigious competition, an achievement they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

The competition is organized by the American Astronautical Society. The UH Maui College teams were sponsored by the NASA Hawaiʻi Space Grant Consortium and Park. The team members thanked Director Luke Flynn for his tremendous support.

Learn more about the UH Maui College bachelor of applied sciences.

Team name: Onipaʻa, 1st place

  • Arthur S. Agdeppa (Team Leader) – Senior, Engineering Technology (BAS)
  • Jhaymar Mendez – Senior, Engineering Technology (BAS)
  • Guillermo Martin – Junior, Engineering Technology (BAS)
  • Tim Marcello – Sophomore, Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology (AS)

Team name: Pakaʻa, 23rd place

  • Alexander T. Meyer (Team Leader) – Senior, Engineering Technology (BAS)
  • Noah E. Franco – Junior, Engineering Technology (BAS)
  • Jerico Mark Olpinodo – Sophomore, Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology (AS)
  • Eleomar N. Cabbat – Sophomore, Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology (AS)
  • Randolf D. Rayo – Sophomore, Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology (AS)
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