People gather at the Solar Canoe Workshop held by the Engineering Club last semester. (Photo courtesy of Engineering Club)

By Shawna Takaki | Staff Writer

KCC’s Engineering Club is a place for like-minded people interested in the many fields of engineering to form bonds and support each other.

“It’s just fun to meet other people in engineering,” said Aydan Letterii, the treasurer and a Civil Engineering major. “It’s nice to talk to other people who are on a similar track and generally hold a very strong curiosity about things.”

The president and founder of the club, Teal Hoffman, is an Electrical Engineering major who wished to enhance her college experience by joining a club related to her field of study. In 2022, Hoffman visited the STEM center and inquired about the existence of a club related to engineering and found that there used to be the Engineers for A Sustainable World, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there was nothing suitable active in Spring 2022.

With the cooperation of the club advisor Aaron Hanai, she officially started the Engineering Club in September 2022. Now, there are more than 10 members in the club dedicated to expanding their knowledge of engineering and creating opportunities to work on projects that students wouldn’t be able to do in their classes.

“It gives us the freedom to do more creative things, what students want to do,” said Hanai. “[It’s] driven by students, not driven by faculty.”

The project for the semester, which they have begun to plan, is to create a prototype of solar pumped hydro power storage. It utilizes solar energy that pumps a hydropump, which pumps water to a higher elevation.

When it becomes nighttime and the solar panels stop functioning, the water at a higher elevation drops down to a lower elevation and spins a turbine for energy. The club plans on continuing on different iterations into the next semester and on presenting the project at SURF, KCC’s annual STEM undergraduate research fair.

“I think what’s really fun about this project is that it incorporates a lot of engineering disciplines,” said Letterii. ”Everyone in the club has different engineering-related majors, like mechanical, civil, electrical. This project kind of blends an important aspect … from all the different disciplines.”

A picture of a built Solar Canoe.

Engineering Club built a model of the Hikianalia in the spring. (Photo courtesy of Teal Hoffman)

The club previously held a solar canoe workshop open to all students on April 19 this year. It held a build-off between two groups creating the Hikianalia, the sister canoe to the Hōkūleʻa, which makes voyages around the world. This was chosen as an example of combining the old and new technology while promoting both sustainability and indigenous cultural knowledge with modern technology. With 14 attendees, the event facilitated team bonding between the members.

Last semester, the club also coordinated an event for high schoolers at the Physics Olympiad to compete against each other, providing materials for students to build an apparatus to prevent an egg from dropping and scoring their attempts.

The club holds a general meeting over Zoom every second and fourth Monday of the month from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Here, the members discuss their plans for future projects.

“The KapCC Engineering Club is open to everybody,” said Hoffman. “You don’t need to be an engineering major, take certain classes, or have experience. This is a learning experience and this is a place where we can learn things together.”

Email Aaron Hanai or Teal Hoffman to contact the Engineering Club.