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Electronics Technology student develops safety system for observatory during summer internship

Electronics Technology student Eric Paopao.

Electronics Technology student Eric Paopao participated in the 2016 Akamai Internship Program during the summer and helped develop a safety mechanism at the UH88 Observatory on Mauna Kea.

Eric, a second-year Electronics Technology student at Hawai‘i Community College, was one of 29 students from Hawai‘i to participate in the internship this year, many of them coming from other University of Hawai‘i campuses.

Eric’s project was impressive. Working at the University of Hawai‘i Institute for Astronomy in Hilo, he developed a lockout/tagout (LOTO) system for the UH88 Observatory. The purpose of LOTO is to protect employees from unexpected machine start-up while they are working on them. During the development of the energy control program, applicable safety regulations were researched and site surveys were conducted. LOTO procedures were then written, approved, and placed into policy. Annual employee training and inspections will be conducted in the future to keep the energy control program up to date. The UH88 Observatory will adopt the LOTO program to provide a safe working environment for its employees.

The eight-week Akamai Internship Program, which was established in 2003, provides tremendous real-world experience that can help students see the practical applications for what they’re learning in the classroom.

"I enjoyed applying my skills and knowledge to a real and relevant project," Eric said. "I'm very grateful to have been a part of the 2016 program and I would highly encourage other STEM students to apply for future Akamai Internships."

The Akamai Workforce Initiative is devoted to building Hawai‘i’s scientific and technical workforce, a goal Hawai‘i Community College shares. Akamai interns have a strong track record of persisting in STEM programs and finding jobs in STEM fields after graduating.

That’s something Eric hopes to do. He is a Hilo High School graduate who expects to graduate from Hawai‘i Community College next May with an Associate in Applied Science in Electronics Technology. After graduation, he plans to further his education by pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at UH Mānoa. Eric would like to work in the mechanical design field and has always wanted to invent new and innovative products.