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NEWS | Oct. 13, 2021

Innovation through Education

By Lorraine Butler, PHNSY&IMF Program Analyst

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – As many know, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY & IMF) prides itself on employing the largest number of engineers in the state of Hawaii. But what you may not know is that the University of Hawai’i (UH) awards the most engineering degrees throughout the islands. In what seemed a natural fit, PHNSY & IMF seized the opportunity to forge a mutually beneficial and innovative partnership with UH’s College of Engineering.  

Throughout the year, UH mechanical engineering students work on shipyard projects under the supervision of assigned mentors. Each semester, students also creates design projects which they present to an audience of their supervisors, mentors and shipyard senior leaders as the culmination of their experience. Through this program, students gain real world experience in an industrial environment where they are able to apply the tools they’ve developed in school to improve processes in the shipyard. “Students do not have the safety net of theorized projects,” stated Technical Support Division Program Manager, Vance Hashimoto. “They are working on real life situations where it’s their responsibility to get the final answer. Their experience extends beyond just learning, they are now producing knowledge.”

In the 2021 spring semester, examples of student design projects include hydrostatic test pumps, equipment transportation, welding and circuit breakers. PHNSY & IMF departments benefited greatly because the students produced deliverables that directly supported their needs. Student design projects were based on desired improvements; improvements that employees did not have the necessary time required to allocate towards the research and design work needed to complete the task. Additionally, the students offered a fresh perspective when approaching the challenges.

This partnership also provided PHNSY & IMF employees the opportunity to gain leadership skills through advising and mentoring the students, ultimately prepping them for future supervisory roles. In addition to the overall knowledge gained from the experience, witnessing the students’ increased confidence as they grew more comfortable in their roles, was cited as a significant highlight for all personnel involved. Furthermore, the experience is an opportunity to work with potential shipyard candidates and determine their suitability for a fulltime position. Of the 30 students who have participated, six are currently employed by PHNSY & IMF and six others have offers pending graduation.

Mechanical Division mentor, Diane Bautista, recounted her experience working on a nozzle cooling project (cold spray) with her mentee stating, “I wanted her to succeed with her project, but I also wanted to help her succeed in life. Overall, I wanted to be someone that she could come to and talk to or ask for help if she needed. I’m hoping that I helped her, even just a little, in things besides the cold spray project.”

PHNSY & IMF is the first of the four public shipyards to have secured this type of partnership with a local university. Eric Petran, Technical Support Division Head, envisioned the program and endeavored to bring it to realization by working with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to obtain lab status for the shipyard and UH’s Dr. Marvin Young to develop an Educational Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the university. Vance Hashimoto, William Anderson and Duane Domingo of the Technical Support department continue to coordinate the program, with legal support from the shipyard’s legal counsel. However, they credit the participating codes, Facilities and Equipment, Electrical, Combat Systems Division, Mechanical Division and Welding and Engineering, for driving the program’s success, through their willingness to welcome students into their departments and serve as mentors.



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