The Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) STEM Works Industry Day occurs annually in December to showcase the community corporations. The West Hawaii Industry day educates young adults in the community through interactive activities and presentations on the inner workings of STEM corporations in the community. This is the Kealakehe Tiki Tech’s second year participating in STEM Works Industry Day and the members were intrigued with the information and activities presented this year.

In the morning of industry day the Kealakehe students met with Friends of NELHA (FON). Friends of NELHA is a sector of NELHA that offers tours and public demonstrations that spotlight renewable energy and aquaculture. The students were able to meet with Sarah Crawford, FON’s executive director, and Jane Kelleher, the programs event manager. These two extraordinary women enlightened the students on renewable energy and introduced them to  Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion .

After meeting with Ms. Crawford and Ms. Kelleher the group met with the staff of Cyanotech. Cyanotech grows Haematococcus Pluvialis and Spirulina, which are species of algae. Haematococcus Pluvialis is a very strong and adaptable type of algae which when harvested can transfer some of its properties to humans and that is how they make bioastin nutritional supplements. Spirulina is a microscopic vegetable algae that has been primarily used as a source of nutrients for hundreds of years.

Next the team met with representatives at Cellana, the dominant developer of algae-based bioproducts. We learned Cellana has different ways of processing and caring for the algae. Cellana inspired the team by educating us on the wide array of jobs available in the Bioengineering field.

In conclusion the team visited the Nelha Water Quality Laboratory which tests water quality at 30 locations in the ocean for research. The Industry Day was a success and was a great experience for students who aspire to go into STEM related careers.

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