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February 22, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dedication of Institute for Astronomy Hilo FacilityA dedication ceremony will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Friday February 23 for the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy (IfA) Facility at the University of Hawaii at Hilo Research and Technology Park. The Hilo branch of the IfA is a state-of-the-art facility that supports the Institute's telescope operations on Mauna Kea and provides long-awaited expansion space for its research, technology development, instrumentation, teaching, and outreach programs. The $11 million 35,000 square-foot split-level building was designed by Oda/McCarty Architects, Ltd., of Hilo and was built by Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company.
The Institute for Astronomy in Hilo will be a focal point for research and development in astronomical instrumentation, especially in large-format focal plane array development. The new facility will cooperate with UH Hilo and other observatory facilities in developing the scientific and technology base in Hilo. It will directly support the University of Hawaii's activities on Mauna Kea, including the operation of the University's own telescopes, and the NASA Infrared Telescope, which the University operates under contract to NASA.
The IfA Hilo Facility is equipped with shops and laboratories for the development and maintenance of scientific instruments and telescopes. The office space accommodates astronomers, engineers, technicians, administrative and management staff, students and academic visitors. High-bandwith fiber-optics data and video links connect the Hilo building to IfA facilities on Oahu and Maui, telescopes on Mauna Kea, and to other astronomical institutes around the world.
The first occupants of the building include 15 Institute employees who were previously stationed at various locations in Hilo, five who have transferred from the Institute's facility in Manoa, seven new hires, and two visiting astronomers. The building is designed to accommodate about 70 employees. It is expected that this major decentralization and expansion of the Institute's activities will take several years. In addition to accommodating IfA personnel and programs, the new facility also provides space for the Hilo operations of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii, for UH Hilo astronomers, and for other UH Hilo programs, including the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center and the College of Hawaii Language. Within the next few weeks, the newly created Office of Mauna Kea Management will relocate to the facility. All occupants will share the common resources, such as the auditorium and meeting rooms.
This new facility also promotes much closer collaboration between the astronomy programs of the Institute and those at UH Hilo, in particular, the University's first Bachelor of Science in Astronomy program, now offered by UH Hilo.
The Institute for Astronomy joins the four astronomy facilities already located in the UH Hilo Research & Technology Parkthe Joint Astronomy Centre, the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, the Gemini 8-Meter Telescopes, and the Subaru Telescope. These five facilities employ approximately 270 people and serve the astronomy communities in nine countriesthe United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, the Netherlands, and Japan. And, when the Submillimeter Array base facility arrives in about two years' time, astronomers from Taiwan will join the group. The Institute will also be nearer to the facilities which are based in Waimeathe Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Very Long Baseline Array.
Klaus Hodapp (Interim Associate Director, IfA Hilo Facility) will preside over the dedication program. Kalena P. Silva (Professor, Hawaiian Studies, UH Hilo) will give a mele kahea (welcome chant), and Father Scott Bush (Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Hilo) will give the blessing. Scheduled participants in the dedication program include Harry Kim (Mayor of Hawaii County), Joseph Blanco (Executive Assistant to the Governor for Economic Development & Special Advisor for Technology Development) who will represent Governor Benjamin Cayetano, UH Regent Dr. Billy Bergin, UH President Kenneth Mortimer, Rachel Fordyce (Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, UH Hilo) who will represent Chancellor Rose Tseng, and IfA Director Rolf Kudritzki. Members of the Hawaii County Council, Hawaii State Legislature, and representatives of State and County governments are also expected to attend
The Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii conducts research into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the Sun. Its faculty and staff are also involved in astronomy education, and in the development and management of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea.
RGB photographs of the facility Photo Credit: Darryl Watanabe, NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, UH Institute for Astronomy.