Credit: University of Hawai’i 

PUHI, Hawaii (AP) — Three Kauai Community College students and their instructors are preparing to blast off a rocket with NASA.

Marcus Yamaguchi, Nicholas Herrmann, Brennen Sprenger, Georgeanne Purvinis and Stu Burley have traveled to Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia for the launch of the RockSat-X rocket, the Garden Island reported (http://bit.ly/1eUKW1L).

The program, called Project Imua, is funded by a two-year $500,000 grant awarded under the NASA Space Grant Competitive Opportunity for Partnerships with Community Colleges and Technical Schools.

“One of the goals of Project Imua is to get students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers,” Purvinis said. “Brennen, who is only 17 years old, was a business major, but now switched to pursue a path toward mechanical engineering. He designed the payload, KCC’s role in the launch — and he was only 16 years old when he did it.”

Sprenger got his GED at 16 years old and says he wants to earn a degree in mechanical engineering.

“I overheard Marcus talking with Georgeanne about the project,” Sprenger said. “It was then I realized I wanted to be in engineering and changed my career path. The biggest part of this project is student development and it has been an eye-opening experience.”

Project Imua’s goal is to get data on ultra violet energy that is normally filtered out by Earth’s atmosphere.