Our goal is to create and establish engaged and sustainable educational pathways for Hawai‘i’s students from their middle or high school to pursuing and achieving their advanced degrees in STEM fields.


This project is:

  • For not only underrepresented and underserved students, but for all students with any ethnicity and demographics.
  • STEM Pathways: from Middle/ High School to Advanced Degree completion.
  • Involves Oahu and Big Island schools (UH-Mānoa, lead), UH-Hilo, Kapi‘olani Community College, Waiākea High School, Moanalua High School).
  • It is expected to extend the project to Maui, Kaua‘i and Lāna‘i.
  • Future work: Extensions to the other islands, initiation of new key projects
  • Supported by NASA, the prime collaborator – NASA Ames Research Center


Key Projects

Key projects address NASA Earth Sciences Missions and are designed for middle and high school students, community college students, university undergraduate and graduate students.

New key projects:

  • Project 6: Deep Space Missions
  • Project 7: Any other ideas are welcome!


Project 1: Atmospheric aerosol studies (Hawai‘i Island)


  • learn about atmospheric aerosols and then propose and build their own instruments to monitor them
  • use collected aerosol measurement data to generate and discuss various graphs and diagrams
  • compare and validate collected data with NASA’s publicly available satellite data

Project 2: Studies of effects of ocean species and experiments simulating phytoplankton’s influence on ocean color (O‘ahu, Hawai‘i Island)


  • study general principles of ocean color, as well as the instruments used to measure it
  • prepare written and video-based materials for this study
  • measure spectral absorbance and fluorescence of seawater to demonstrate the concepts learned
  • collect seawater samples and use a spectrophotometer to obtain data about the samples
  • compare these sample spectra to pure and mixed cultures of phytoplankton




Project 3: Studies of small satellite technology and its role in understanding of Earth sciences (O‘ahu)


  • study small satellite technology
  • explore their maneuvers and benefits in understanding of various phenomena, including Earth gravity variations, climate change, ocean monitoring and rising sea levels utilizing on-board sensors
  • conduct simulations of HiakaSat’s orbital and attitude dynamics using COSMOS, Matlab and Satellite Toolkit (STK)
  • tour the HSFL facilities and attend presentations at HSFL and Mechanical Engineering featuring small satellite technology
  • perform hands-on simulations of a satellite flight, navigation and control capabilities through the integration of software with existing hardware, such as GPS and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensors and attitude test-beds of HSFL

Project 4: Planetary Landing Technologies (O‘ahu)


  • study NASA space exploration missions, including previous, current and future Moon, Mars and asteroid missions
  • study entry, descent and landing technologies (EDL)
  • explore and analyze various landing maneuver sequences and scenarios
  • conduct simulations and hands-on projects on the design and simulation of EDL trajectories
  • propose robotic missions

Project 5: Unmanned Aerial Systems (O‘ahu, Maui, Lāna‘i, Kaua‘i)


  • study flight mechanics
  • dynamical models of various UAS platforms, including fixed-wing aircraft, quadcopters, etc.
  • design and assemble UAS using given requirements
  • conduct simulations and hands-on projects using dynamical models
  • study utilities of on-board sensors
  • explore a wide range of navigation and control schemes
  • work with flight controllers and their codes
  • explore agricultural, scientific and other applications of UAS



  • Comprehensive Open-architecture Solution for Mission Operations Systems (COSMOS) is a complete operating system for managing all aspects of a collection of remotely distributed data acquisition nodes, both mobile and stationary
  • For this project, COSMOS will provide the device drivers for any hardware used to collect data
  • Data would be made available to the central repository for both real time and archival access


Activity Support

  • Engineering Student Ambassadors (ESAs)
  • Annual One-day Mini-Conference (Mid May)
  • Communications between the students and NASA scientists through “Google hangouts”, “Skype”, “Twitter”, etc.
  • Students will be encouraged to share their thoughts with their peers, the ESAs and experts


Project Awards for Students

  • Reward 6-8 students for the 2nd and 3rd years who have successfully completed their key project and showed mentorship, leadership and STEM-skills, with a stipend
  • the stipends will be communicated with the student’s parents
  • the project team will reward 3 groups for the design and performance of “mini-projects” to reveal and/or utilize interesting phenomena in the science problems related to Projects 1-3 ($50 for each key project)
  • the awards will be used to purchase parts and supplies to perform their “mini-projects”