Photo: PISCES’ Summer Interns (L-R): Aaron Roth, Jack Andersen and Andrew Hasegawa pose with the focus of their summer work, the Helelani rover. Andersen and Hasegawa will continue working on the rover in a the new credit-based internship program during the Fall 2017 semester.

PISCES and Hawaii Community College have partnered to create a new credit-based internship program to offer college student high-tech learning opportunities while earning classroom credit. The collaborative program will provide real-world, hands-on experience in computer programming and robotics projects to develop Hawaii’s skilled labor workforce as jobs increasingly shift toward high-tech industry positions.

“I am very happy to be working closely with Hawaii Community College to provide students the opportunity to practice and improve the skills they learn in the classroom,” said PISCES Program Manager Rodrigo Romo. “At PISCES we are committed to providing Hawaii’s youth with as many tools and opportunities as possible to meet the demands of the growing high tech industry in the Islands.”

Robotics interns test the results of their system upgrades aboard the Helelani rover during a field test at a PISCES planetary analog test site.

“Hawaii Community College believes that preparing our students for the jobs of the 21st century goes beyond our classrooms,” said Hawaii CC Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas. “Along with industry partners like PISCES, we can provide academic rigor in internship-based courses and programs.”

Two Hawaii CC students who interned with PISCES this summer will participate in the program during the Fall 2017 semester. Andrew Hasegawa and Jack Andersen, both Electronics Technology majors, will earn hour-for-hour classroom credit towards their degrees by designing and implementing an autonomous navigation system for PISCES’ planetary rover, enabling the 700-pound robot to drive itself.

The students will also develop a delivery system for an unmanned aerial vehicle to mitigate little fire ant populations in tree canopies, a PISCES project in partnership with the Hawaii Ant Lab. Both students are already familiar with the Helelani rover’s configuration since developing the robot’s software and hardware systems during their 10-week internship program funded by the Dept. of Labor this summer.

“Hawaii Community College is very proud of our two summer intern students, Andrew Hasegawa and Jack Anderson, who will also participate this fall in the credit-based internship program at PISCES,” said Hawaii CC Electronics Technology Instructor Bernard “Chip” Michels. “Their work this past summer is a good representation of the new Electronics Technology curriculum the students were exposed to. I believe this new, revitalized Electronics Technology program that is focused on telecommunications and process and control industries will yield other fine examples of student work in the future. We hope to have more opportunities for our interns at PISCES and other interested organizations.”

PISCES and Hawaii CC intend to make the credit-based internship an ongoing program to provide unique learning opportunities for Hawaii college students outside of the classroom.

“Although classroom learning is invaluable for foundational knowledge, it can at times be lacking in more realistic problem-solving scenarios,” said Hawaii CC student Andrew Hasegawa. “This internship provides me with hands-on situations that I’m sure will serve me well in my overall education and future employment opportunities.”