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From left, Honolulu Councilmember Augie Tulba, Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke, UH President David Lassner, HDOT Director Ed Sniffen, Jeff Kalani, Ryan Yamauchi, former Gov. David Ige, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi and College of Engineering Dean Brennon Morioka

A record turnout of more than 1,000 attendees gathered at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Engineering Banquet, held at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center on April 3. The event celebrated the achievements of students, faculty and alumni, while also raising a record-breaking amount of more than $380,000 to support the college and its students.

people sitting on tables in a ballroom
The banquet drew a record crowd of more than 1,000 attendees.

“Our annual banquet is such an amazing night because not only are we able to raise a lot of money to support our student projects every year, which is an incredible part of their educational experience and professional growth, but we as an industry get to network and strengthen personal relationships, which is really the foundation of doing business here in Hawaiʻi,” said College of Engineering Dean Brennon Morioka. “Plus it is another opportunity for our amazing students to engage with industry, which is very important for us as a college.”

The event began with student project exhibitions, such as lava viscosity and thermal measurement devices, autonomous fixed wing drones, autonomous electric vehicles, smart campus energy lab displays and unexploded ordnance detection devices.

people standing behind a large vehicle

Following dinner was the presentation of several awards, including:

  • Outstanding Service Award—Jeff Kalani and Ryan Yamauchi
  • Distinguished Alumni Award—Former Gov. David Ige
  • Dean’s Award of Excellence—Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation (HDOT) Director Ed Sniffen
  • Featured Student Project—UH Drone Technologies

Kalani and Yamauchi are College of Engineering alumni who played significant roles as industry leaders in raising more than $700,000 to upgrade the civil and environmental engineering labs at UH Mānoa. Kalani is president and CEO of Yogi Kwong Engineers, and Yamauchi is president of Element Environmental.

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Ige’s education in electrical engineering and a master’s in business administration from UH Mānoa has profoundly influenced his leadership style. His blend of technical expertise and business acumen has guided his governance, allowing him to address challenges strategically. Ige’s commitment to leveraging his education for Hawaiʻi’s benefit underscores the impact of education on effective leadership.

The priorities outlined for HDOT under Sniffen’s direction through 2026 encompass improving safety, the preservation and resilience of the transportation system, supporting housing with infrastructure improvements, increasing energy and food security, adapting to climate change, addressing the cost of living and economy, and ensuring the sustainability of transportation funding.

UH Drone Technologies (UHDT), founded in 2014, develops drone technology and competes in competitions. They focus on search-and-rescue operations and have achieved notable milestones, including accurate geotagging and autonomous target detection. UHDT‘s work extends to designing autonomous package-delivery systems for maritime vessels. Team members develop technical skills and gain experience in leadership and teamwork, preparing them for careers in engineering and technology.

For more on the banquet, visit the College of Engineering website.

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