Amber Fulkerson grew up in Kaimuki on the island of O‚Äėahu and graduated from Sacred Hearts Academy in 2009. She will be a junior this fall at Oregon State University, studying to become a Civil Engineer.

Amber enjoys hiking, going to the beach, and hanging out with family and friends.

Institution when accepted: Oregon State University.

Akamai Project:  Moving Gemini Observatory Toward Sustainability: Greening an Astronomical Data Center

Project Site: Gemini Observatory

Mentors: Tim Minick

Project Abstract:

The Gemini Observatory spends over one million dollars per year in electricity charges to operate¬†their Hawai‚Äėi facilities. A major component of this high bill is the continuous operation of¬†their data centers. Each data center is a room full of computer equipment including servers,¬†storage systems, backup power supplies, environmental controls, and security devices. Since¬†Gemini employees need around-the-clock access to the data archives and online services, this¬†equipment is never turned off, and therefore the cooling system to prevent overheating is also¬†never turned off. We have begun a feasibility study of techniques that would reduce Gemini‚Äôs¬†operational support costs for its data centers. Any final recommendations must provide a return-of-investment within two years, require less than one day of data center downtime during¬†installation, and allow for future expansion of the data center. Various techniques being assessed¬†include using renewable energy, upgrading to more efficient servers, improving the¬†cooling system‚Äôs efficiency, converting to more efficient lights, and implementing distributive¬†power management software. We have completed our study of the cooling systems, and we¬†recommend the installation of vinyl curtains as the best way to isolate different temperature¬†zones in the rooms and reduce energy use. Using more efficient lights in their two Hawai‚Äėi facilities¬†can save Gemini nearly $200 in electricity charges every year. We anticipate additional¬†energy savings in the other areas mentioned above, and a full feasibility report will be provided¬†to Gemini at the end of our study. Future research is needed to investigate the transferability¬†of our recommendations to Gemini‚Äôs other facilities located in Chile.