Saturday, August 1, 2009

Students on the Big Island of Hawai'i help develop micro lunar rover

Kelson Lau and Jordan Olive are developing technology that will be implemented on NASA's Lunar Micro Rover. (Photo courtesy of the Governor's Office)

While Americans across the country celebrated the 40th anniversary of man’s first walk on the moon this week, two Hawaii students are participating in a NASA summer internship program, where they are developing technology that will be used on the Lunar Micro Rover.

Kelson Lau, a recent Waiakea High School graduate and current University of Hawaii at Manoa student, and Jordan Olive from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, are participating in the NASA Robotics Academy, a NASA multi-center, 10-week residential summer internship for students specifically interested in robotics.

Both were participants in Waiakea High School’s award-winning student robotics program.

Lau, who was presented with the Governor’s Innovation Award in 2008, is working on the Solid-State Cooling System for the Lunar Micro Rover to test a method of cooling the rover’s CPU and other sensitive electronics such as the motor controller in the harsh lunar environment.

Olive is working on a dust deflection device, and its effectiveness in space, developing circuit boards that will control and regulate power onboard the lunar micro rover, and designing a “hot plate” that will test the rover for space readiness.

“My participation in the Waiakea High School Robotics Program has easily been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I not only gained many priceless memories, but met amazing mentors and people, made new friends, gained skills, and had amazing opportunities opened for me,” Lau said.

“I believe that my participation in robotics has given me the skills and confidence needed to participate in the Robotics Academy Internship at NASA and contribute to the program.”

Olive also expressed his appreciation for the skills gained by participating in student robotics programs.

“Hawaii [is] doing something right! As a newly graduated senior last July, I was very intimidated to join the team of scientists and engineers working on the Lunar Micro Rover at NASA Ames Research Center,” he said. “The experience gained from Waiakea High School’s Robotics and Hawaii Space Grant funded fellowship projects gave me enough ‘know how knowledge’ to actually come up with a device (electrodynamics dust shield) that will actually be implemented on the Lunar Micro Rover. Robotics in Hawaii is no little thing.”

Robotics is a critical component of the Lingle-Aiona Administration’s Hawaii Innovation Initiative because it engages students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

The competition also fosters students’ teamwork, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills that will better prepare them to enter the work force.

For more information about student robotics programs, visit

Learn more about NASA summer internships and the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium fellowship at

No comments: