Subaru Student Programs
December 19 , 2008
Part of the core mission of the Subaru Telescope is to share knowledge and experiences of discovery with the public, and to serve as a platform for education of students worldwide. Our outreach activities and in-house programs present students with opportunities to learn and experience first-hand the varied levels of professional astronomy at a world-class observatory.
Students from high schools across Hawaii and Japan visit Subaru to learn about the advanced technologies, wondrous discoveries, and state-of-the-art engineering occurring at our telescope. Through tours at base headquarters and the summit, as well as workshops and lecture series, students become exposed to topics of interest for future academic study. We have hosted large school groups from many cities including Tokyo, Osako, and Kyoto as well as Honolulu, Kona, and Hilo.
As part of our student development, Subaru offers two opportunities for high school students to intern at our facility – the Huiana Internship Mentor Program and the Upward Bound Program. Huiana places Hawaii Island students with a Subaru staff member to acquire workplace readiness skills through mentoring, job training, and/or field trips. Upward Bound prepares students from specific high schools on the east side of the Big Island to enter and succeed at college through the development of academic and personal skills. Several Subaru staff have served as advisors and guides to students in these developmental programs.
To the same extent that high school groups visit Subaru, so do many college/university groups stop by our base facility and telescope to learn about the latest studies, technological innovations, and astronomical findings. We have hosted student groups from California to Florida and from Hawaii to Japan.
One activity that offers unique opportunities to young academics is our Student Employment program. Since 2001, Subaru has employed over 85 students in part-time and seasonal positions from Hawaii and Kapiolani Community Colleges and the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Manoa campuses. Currently, we have ten students (3 boys & 7 girls) working in different departments of Subaru, including the Public Information and Outreach Office, Instrument Division, Telescope Engineering Division, and the Computer and Data Management Division. One of our student staff, Shuji Takemura, a computer science major at UH-Hilo, assists with management of the Subaru website. He said “Subaru is a great environment in which to work since you get to use both Japanese and English, and you learn new things all the time”.
Another program that has worked out well for both Subaru and students is the Hawaii Island Akamai Observatory Internship Program. The Center for Adaptive Optics at the University of California at Santa Cruz offers community college students and undergraduates that are attending college in Hawaii or that are Hawaii residents that are studying on the Mainland an opportunity to get involved in research at an observatory on Mauna Kea. During summer months, the paid internship is an intensive 8-week introduction to adaptive optics research methods and tools where each student is matched with an advisor and is integrated as member of the advisor’s research group with daily guidance by a mentoring supervisor. For those interested in pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering, or math, the Akamai internship is an exceptional opportunity to work hands-on with the world’s leading scientists in their field(s) of expertise.
Since its inception in 2004, fifty-three Hawaii-based students have participated in the Akamai program, and eight of those students (6 boys & 2 girls) have been sponsored by Subaru. The students’ studies have assisted in the development of our second generation adaptive optics system (AO188), including fine tuning the wavefront sensor, adjusting the electronics on the deformable mirror, and upgrading software. The Akamai experience has allowed the students to apply their knowledge in real-life practice and has assisted them to choose a potential career path.
Subaru is also a place for advanced academia and the training of the next generation of researchers. Students from the Graduate University for Advanced Studies (Sokendai) in Japan and other international universities complete studies at graduate, doctoral, and post-doctoral levels as members of the Subaru team. Currently, we have four students working on advanced degrees (Master’s and PhD), who are actively involved in the theory and application of cutting-edge technology as a foundation for astronomical observation; the design, fabrication, and testing of new observational instruments; and the development of new methods of data acquisition and analysis. One student, Julien Lozi from the Institut d ‘Optique in France, interned for six months and assisted with the development of a Phase-Induced Amplitude Apodization (PIAA) coronagraph. Before returning to France to begin his PhD, Julien said “my time at Subaru was really interesting and quite challenging. The people at Subaru were very nice and great to work with”.
In conjunction with the mission and objectives of Subaru, the advanced student research may include cosmological studies to understand how the universe began, to resolve the process of galaxy formation and evolution, and to explain the nature and the distribution of dark energy and dark matter. Searching extra-solar planets and exploring evolution of planets and planetary systems are also an important topic of study. To understand physics of peculiar objects is also an area of interest, so astronomers are also studying gamma ray burst and black holes at the final stage of stellar evolution. Additional research involves upgrading existing instrument systems as well as designing and building the next generation of detectors, sensors, and cameras.
On our journey of discovery, Subaru appreciates sharing its wealth of knowledge and experience with students of all levels. We welcome anyone who may be interested in astronomy, computers, mathematics, engineering or other science-based disciplines to contact us about our telescope and student-oriented programs. Remember, at one time we are all students, and the chance to learn and grow in the stimulating, challenging, and supportive environment at Subaru is an exceptional opportunity.
For more information and details about Subaru staff, our cutting-edge technologies, and the magnificent discoveries at our telescope, please explore through our website.