Saturday, June 27, 2009

Working on an airplane.

I spent most of the day learning interesting things about how to fix airplanes. The Grob is frustratingly close to flying. It's almost painful. The intake manifold is re-bolted. New muffler. New seat upholstry. New magneto. Completely overhauled propeller - looks and acts like new. Windows are molded and new glass is on it's way....

So, almost all of these things are done but there's all the little stuff that gets in the way. We tried to run up the engine today to check it, but the battery was dead from a month of disuse. Whoops. And the air filters are off for much-needed changing anyways. I went to re-tape all the airframe gaps (reduces drag) and noticed that a hinge was toally rusted and frozen. We had to remove the tail and pound on it to fix it. That inspired me to redo all the hinges. So, what was supposed to be a day with a test flight turned in to a day troubleshooting little things. Always something to learn down there.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

IfA Maui AO Demonstrator

Darcy is getting ready to head to Santa Cruz. It's been awesome 'mentoring an REU' and it's always nice when you make something in the end that works.... This one will work way better than the MCC one. Got to love technology.....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Flying home from Hilo...

Beautiful pictures out the window.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Birthday Mountain Circle

Heather and I got to drive around Mauna Kea for the day. It was a nice calm break from things. Good and chill. We drove up to Laupahoehoe for breakfast then hiked to the back of Waipio valley. Kohala mountain road had some great views... and after a nap on the mountain top and some cheesecake in Waimea we caught a sunset from the saddle. All up, a good day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Crazy Small Animals

These two dogs would not stop fighting.... and it was hilarious because of how tiny they were. And the best part was the cat was holding her own against both of them. She could take either one of them down with a good rolling sweep.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Flying to the big island.... always pretty.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Falling in to an eigenvalue-hole.

So, with Christian here and his banker suit in the closet, we whipped out the matrix-math and writers hats. He was here for the week to help push the 'demodulation' paper forward. If I had to summarize the work it would be something like this - Though typical solar spectropolarimetric systems use achromatized elements for both polarimetric accuracy and precision, there are trade-offs for night-time astronomers that make other solutions attractive. One can remove common night-time systematic effects (beam wander, guiding, ccd gain variations and cosmetics, etc) even with highly chromatic liquid crystal variable retarders and, with careful empirical calibration and a fast-switching detector system, demodulate to a stable polarimetric frame with relatively similar polarimetric sensitivity. Phew. It took two full days of screwing around with data, matrix algebra and a lot of going round in circles (daytime over coffee, night time over whiskey) to get to a point where we both had our heads wrapped around the whole thing. Glad it's done and we can just finish this paper....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hiking to the Makua Rim

.... with a Swiss secret service agent. Christian came to work / visit and is getting ready to do his yearly (government required) military training. The Swiss get together in fancy bullet-proof banker suits, bring their oozie from home, get their stock-issue AK-47 and breifcase full of gold and are sent out in to the world (which they own) to spy on us lowly loan holders. Or at least, that's my impression of the Swiss.

Friday, June 12, 2009

AO Demonstrator Activity....

Finally, the last day of the course... And it was spent on adaptive optics. I think it went decent.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A day on the summit.

We spent the day touring the summit... great day...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Akamai in the news...

The short-course somewhat made the Maui News this morning and I got a good lesson in PR out of it. I'm the 'lead instructor' and one of three content teachers for the Akamai Maui Short Course. Nina teaches the communication things and we're all under Lisa. However, MCC is launching a new bachelors program that some major institutions are involved with and Maui News decided to drop by. So.... since this was an article that focused on this new cirriculum, the 'big-wigs' decided to show up, displace all us lowly instructors (save Lisa), and disrupt the class for 30 minutes while they took pictures with our students. Now, the big-wigs deserve most of the credit - they pay for us to be there, they provide the structure and infrastrucure, and Lisa is the director of ISEE who created the whole program anyways. However, I found it incredibly interesting how much the event was about the right kind of picture being taken with the right people. The caption for the picture has most of the major participating institutes and great concern was expressed to make sure that IfA, CfAO and MCC got their names in the same space. Nowhere does the caption say that none of the pictured instructors actually taught the inquiry (save Lisa who's connection isn't even mentioned). Nowhere does the caption say that when Maui News says that Mark and Jung 'worked with' interns they meant that Mark and Jung interrupted the inquiry and were asking the students what they were doing. I don't know if I'd call that 'work with' so much as 'make it look like students are learning while teachers are teaching' so that the reader gets the right impression. IfA, CfAO, ISEE, MCC, AWI, AFRL, Senators and UH are all involved at some level and have chipped in $ in some way that I don't understand yet. This PR moment stimulated a lot of good questions in my head and I got some good discussions out of Lisa and Mark over lunch. The world of perception and institutional ideology is fascinating, complicated, directly related to my work life and frankly, scarry. One feels like a piece of flotsam in a big river.... This 4-year program is, I think, a very good thing and one Mark and many others have worked very hard to push forward. Can you imagine the type of political BS that would be involved in taking a 2-year community college to the 4-year level where it's competing inside a massive one-university-in-the-state system with players on all side either losing or gaining money, fame and fortune?

Assistant professor Mark Hoffman (third from left) and instructor Jung Park (third from right) work with Akamai Internship Program members Austin Barnes (striped shirt) and Devin Ortal (right) Tuesday morning at Maui Community College. Also pictured are Jeff Kuhn from the Institute for Astronomy (left) and Lisa Hunter from the Center for Adaptive Optics.

MCC readies launch of bachelor’s program
Courses geared toward 4-year engineering technology degree

POSTED: June 10, 2009
Article Photos

The Maui News

KAHULUI - Maui Community College officials have lined up two provisional classes for this fall as the college prepares to launch its second four-year bachelor's degree program.

The courses are called intermediate optics and engineering computing, both of which - with other courses yet to be offered - could lead to a first-time bachelor of applied science in engineering technology from what would be known as University of Hawaii-Maui.

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents voted unanimously May 30 to approve MCC's second bachelor's degree proposal. The creation of the new degree triggered an application for the school to move from junior to senior commission accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which accredits four-year colleges and universities. With the new accreditation, MCC will most likely change its name.

The college already offers a bachelor's degree in applied business and information technology, and students can take distance learning classes on Maui for bachelor's and master's degrees from UH-Manoa, UH-Hilo and UH-West Oahu.

Following the regents' approval last month of the second bachelor's degree at MCC, Mark Hoffman, program coordinator/assistant professor of the Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology Program, went forward with lining up an instructor and scheduling the provisional classes for the fall.

Hoffman said there are as many as 12 students ready to apply for the new bachelor's degree program. But the classes to be offered this fall are provisional because MCC must first get its new accreditation. That process has begun and could be completed by summer's end, he said.

Jung Park, an instructor with a master's in electrical engineering and a doctorate degree in engineering science, will serve as the professor for the two classes. Park was hired into the Electronics and Computing Engineering Technology Program last year and has been teaching a few courses for those seeking an associate degree in electronics and computer engineering technology.

Hoffman, who has been working on establishing the engineering technology degree for at least two years now, said he has made contacts with private companies in the Maui Research & Technology Park as well as the Maui Economic Development Board, which said they need more highly educated workers on Maui.

"I think it's really fantastic for our students to get educated in technology and engineering and to build up Maui's technology industries," Hoffman said. "Companies no longer have to bring in people from the Mainland to work for them. They can hire here."

Following the expected approval of the intermediate optics and engineering computing classes this fall, Hoffman said he hopes to hire at least two more faculty members to teach the new bachelor's degree course requirements.

Students would be formally accepted into the program beginning in the fall of 2010.

The new bachelor's degree was developed in partnership with the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy Maui and the Center for Adaptive Optics.

Hoffman said MCC has also acquired as much as $693,000 in funding to establish the new bachelor's degree programs. Among the largest donors were the National Science Foundation and the office of UH Vice President for Research Jim Gaines. Also assisting in establishing the curriculum were the Akamai Workforce Initiative, a collaborative project headquartered at the UH Institute for Astronomy Maui; the Center for Adaptive Optics at the University of California, Santa Cruz; and the Maui Economic Development Board.

Additional program input was provided by the National Center for Optics and Photonics and the New England Board of Higher Education PHOTON 2 project.

Students entering the new bachelor program will benefit from access to the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy Maui's Advanced Technology Research Center lab, the Faulkes telescope atop Haleakala and a P6 super computer installed at the Maui High Performance Computing Center, which was donated through a corporate community relations grant from IBM and valued in excess of $250,000.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Akamai Day 2 - Lenses and Refraction

Day 2 - playing with clearish stuff, light and lasers. Good fun. I always like how this day goes... It's the most fun for me I think because there's so much stuff around to use to confuse the students and then watch them try to unconfuse themselves. And they all come out knowing way more 'real' information. It's one thing to regurgitate some words spoon-fed to you in a classroom. It's another to make something work given materials at hand. I think that's the substance of inquiry -not just passing a multiple-choice test but really using your knowledge of how things work to do something.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Akamai Day 1

Today was the day of the Akamai short course. The first day is always a rough one - trying to get a sense of the class, doing the first inquiry activity where you've got to guage everybodies attitude and style while you're trying to help.... But it's a good crew this year.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Preparing for the AMSC

It is finally that time of year again to do my 'EPO' service. The teaching team has been preparing, learning and testing in preparation to send 12 of the 'local high-tech students' in to summer internships with local high-tech companies. This year, I am the 'lead instructor' of a 1-week course on optics, equivalent to a 3 credit course. It's pretty fun to teach. It's been a lot of pain and suffering but the last few years the students have always had a good time. The stats are impressive - local schools (UH, MCC, HCC) are basically 'minority serving institutions'. In the Akamai program, about 85-90% of the students either get jobs or get in to grad school. That's the payoff.... Starts tomorrow.....

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Saturn Saturn Saturn

The project on Saturn finally finished up. We got two good nights and a third lost to a broken dome.... No clear detection but very tight 'uppper-limits'. It was exciting anyways. We got to try out a whole different type of functionality with HiVIS that we've never implemented before. It was pretty cool to learn something different for a while. Heather slept in the corner most of the time but then again, she does that.... ;)