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An unveiling ceremony was held on November 20 for a cutting-edge, $250,000 Markforged Metal X 3D printer at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Engineering. This is part of a partnership with the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY and IMF) that began in 2018 and continues to grow and provide more opportunities for engineering students.

The printer, purchased by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) for educational and research purposes, is part of a three-year joint-use agreement allowing students and faculty to fabricate custom small metal parts for use in research and senior design projects. This also affords Navy personnel the ability to manufacture replacement parts, especially those that have long lead times or are obsolete, such as metal flanges, valves, brackets and filter housings.

Partnership accomplishments

Two industry-integrated courses have created pathways for students to jumpstart their careers. Launched in fall 2018, Mechanical Engineering (ME) 491 Pearl Harbor Internship gives students the chance to gain real-world engineering experience by working alongside Pearl Harbor engineers. The course, taught by Adjunct Professor Marvin Young, accepts seven to eight students each semester and quickly fills up. It allows budding engineers the unique opportunity to work on a critical project in a classified, secure environment, mentored by a supervisor, many of whom are UH graduates.

“I learned a lot about what it was like working at the shipyard,” said Tarah Aniya, a senior who completed the course last spring. “I got the opportunity to work together with different codes and shops so I was able to experience the different working environments at the shipyard. I also built good relationships with my mentors and other shipyard workers, which was great because I feel like it helped to open doors for me at the shipyard should I decide to work there after graduation.”

Young added that more than 50% of the students who have taken the class have been hired as full-time employees.

The second course, ME 481/482 Senior Design Project, is a year-long capstone course in its first year that requires students to tackle non-classified projects by PHNSY and IMF, identifying the problem focus in the first stage and building a prototype in the second. This year’s class, taught by Professor Mehrdad Nejhad, is divided into two teams—one focused on 3D printing and the other working in robotics. PHNSY and IMF is providing additional support to students with materials and machinery, producing parts for the project based on drawings the students provide.

Future project

A collaboration under development with UH, PHNSY and IMF, and the University of Guam (UOG), will provide UOG students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher the ability to transfer to UH Mānoa’s mechanical engineering program in their junior year. They will also be encouraged to enroll in the Pearl Harbor internship course and will be eligible to apply for paid work at PHNSY and IMF, with the hope that they will convert to full-time employees. This arrangement will help bring more diversity to the classroom and serve as an important recruiting tool for NAVSEA’s support of maintenance in Guam.

“The College of Engineering and the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard has had a long standing relationship, especially considering the shipyard is one of the larger employers of UH engineering graduates,” College of Engineering Dean Brennon Morioka said. “But through these initiatives, whether it is the internship program, senior capstone, the metal 3D printer or our tri-party collaboration with the University of Guam, we will be able to further our shared and mutual interests even more as we look at the future of Hawaiʻi‘s workforce needs. We are truly appreciative of the Navy in the roles the university and the College of Engineering can play together.”

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