Tech Students Make A Mentor Proud

KHS students are intent on learning from Kobayashi. Photos from Mana Means

With the help of Collin Kobayashi of 3D Academy, three Kaua’i High students take first place in an international science competition

Bridging the gap between technology, industry and education, 3D Academy president Collin Kobayashi recently helped three Kaua’i High School students earn international recognition for their science project.

Prior to participating in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in California, the 11th-graders Ashley Bonilla, Alyssa Braun and Meghan Fujimoto won first place for their project, “Harvesting Electricity through the Installation of a Cost-efficient Mini Hydro Turbine into the Existing Domestic Water Supply,” at the Kaua’i District Regional Science Fair. They also participated in the Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair, where they earned an honorable mention.

“I was proud of their accomplishments,” says Kobayashi. “They worked very hard to conceptualize their design.”

Kobayashi has been voluntarily mentoring students at KHS for three years as part of a program called Project Environmental and Spatial Technology to help students gain exposure to engineering and technical knowledge. Becoming familiar with the industries’ applications will help in planning further education and landing jobs.

Collin Kobayashi

“I enjoy working with high school students because they are creative and enthusiastic,” says Kobayashi.

Students in the Kauai High School Project EAST program (environmental and spatial technology) partnered with Bonilla, Braun and Fuijimoto to create a 3-D design of a mini hydro turbine that can be installed in an existing waterline between a house and its water meter.

A physical prototype of the turbine was determined to provide an output of 1.3kilowatt hours per day, which translates to an estimated energy savings of some $190 per year for the average household.

The most rewarding aspect of his elective efforts was “seeing the students excel and be able to utilize these skills to solve problems and innovate their ideas,” he says.

Witnessing students realize their potential by applying the skills toward activities such as robotics and a higher education is what makes his undertaking worthwhile.

Ashley Bonilla, Alyssa Braun and Meghan Fujimoto

“I wish I had earlier opportunities to learn,” says Kobayashi in regard to engineering and design. “Students need to be exposed to these types of programs early so they can get into the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educational pipeline. Early exposure gives students the opportunity to take the appropriate classes they need in high school so they are better prepared for college.”

Kobayashi now heads STEMworks (formerly Project EAST), a handson, multi-faceted program where students use the most current, high-end technologies.

“This is more than an after-school science club,” says Kobayashi who is employed by 3D Innovations, a division of 3D Academy. “And it’s much more than an enhanced computer class.”

The students work on community issues like energy conservation that teach them how to tackle concerns by providing solutions using the latest computer design and geospatial technologies. They also work with local industry partners and experience the “satisfaction of knowing their efforts are contributing toward improving life on their respective islands,” he says.

Kobayashi assists KHS students with computer-aided 3D design

Integrating 3-D computer-aided design into the program introduces keiki to a 3-D modeling technology that can help create innovations like the hydro turbine.

“My hope is that students walk away excited about engineering and design,” says Kobayashi, who likes to train in jiujitsu in his free time.

3D Academy intends to offer additional programs in the future. Plans also are under way to develop a work center where individuals can utilize software and prototyping tools to help conceptualize their ideas and projects.

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