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Hilo Dedication

by Karen Rehbock

The Institute for Astronomy has facilities on the
islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, and O‘ahu.

On Friday, February 23, 2001, the University of Hawai‘i's Institute for Astronomy (IfA) dedicated its new facility at the Hilo Research and Technology Park. The dedication of the new building was the culmination of over 10 years of planning and construction. The ground breaking for the building took place on September 11, 1998.

Of the new building, University President Kenneth Mortimer said, "The Institute for Astronomy Hilo Facility is a celebration of the future - not just for the institute, the Big Island and the state of Hawai‘i, but for our global community."

The state-of-the-art Hilo facility 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 IfA Hilo facility is equipped with workshops and laboratories for the development and maintenance of sci-entific instruments and telescopes. The office space accommodates astronomers, engineers, technicians, administrative and management staff, students, and academic visitors. High-bandwidth fiber-optic data and video links connect the Hilo building to IfA facilities on O‘ahu and Maui, the telescopes on Mauna Kea, and to other astronomical institutes around the world.

The Institute for Astronomy in Hilo will be a focal point for research and development of astronomical instrumentation, especially large-format focal plane array development. The new facility will cooperate with UH Hilo and other Big Island observatory facilities to develop the scientific and technology base in Hilo. It will directly support the University of Hawai‘i's activities on Mauna Kea, including the operation of the University's own telescopes and the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, which the University operates under a contract with NASA.

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.

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 Hawai‘i, for UH Hilo astronomers, and for other UH Hilo programs, including the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center and Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikolani (the Hawaiian Language College). Within the next few weeks, the newly created Office of Mauna Kea Management will relocate to the new building. All occupants will share the common resources, such as the auditorium and meeting rooms.

The Institute for Astronomy joins the four astronomy facilities already located in the UH Hilo Research & Technology Park. These five facilities employ approximately 270 people . The Institute will also be nearer to the telescope base facilities in Waimea.

IfA Hilo Associate Director Klaus Hodapp; Joe Blanco,
representing Governor Ben Cayetano; UH Regent Billy Bergin;
Big Island Mayor Harry Kim; and IfA Director Rolf Kudritzki
at the dedication ceremony.