Makena was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii and attended Kamehameha Schools Hawaii. She now attends Smith College in Massachusetts where she is currently pursuing her bachelor’s of science in Engineering with a minor in Architecture and Urbanism. As a student athlete, this is Makena’s third year on the Pioneers Varsity Softball team. In her spare time Makena enjoys fishing and hanging out with friends. She hopes to return home after graduation and work as a local engineer. Last year, Makena also participated in Akamai, creating a test rig for linear encoders and interchangeable motor drives at Gemini Observatory North.
Home Island: Big Island
Institution when accepted: Smith College
Akamai Project: Mirror Segment Floor Cart, Flip Fixture, and Balance Improvements
Project Site: W.M Keck Observatory – Waimea, Hawai‘i Island HI
Mentor: Truman Wold
Each telescope of the W.M. Keck Observatory holds a primary mirror made up of 36 hexagonal mirror segments. These segments are continuously being exchanged with the newly recoated mirrors held in storage. The mirror segments are transported and stored on floor carts that hold the primary mirror segments on a flip fixture system that spins, flips, and holds the segments in multiple orientations. An unloaded flip fixture has an overwhelmingly strong moment of inertia that is currently held by a friction brake that often does not engage, putting the staff and equipment safety at risk. The responsibility of holding back the strong moment of inertia relies on three staff members who physically flip the flip fixture by hand. In addition, the flip fixture has an imbalance when hoisted by the spreader bar, which puts the primary mirror segment equipment at risk. Thirdly, the floor cart needs stabilizing when not in contact with earthquake holds, which physically bolt the floor cart to the floor, putting the primary mirror segment equipment and staff at risk. Keck seeks to improve the flip fixture, floor cart, and spreader bar system, in order to increase the safety of their staff and equipment. I have designed a worm gear assembly capable of holding and flipping the moment load of an unloaded flip fixture. The new gear assembly will allow the staff to easily operate the flip fixture without having to physically flip it themselves, by applying a force of just 2.5lbs to a wheel handle. Working with already established models of the spreader bar on SolidWorks, I was able to cross check my new designs, model interfaces, and moment calculations, for potential spreader bar counterweights. The new counterweights are adjustable and account for any asymmetrical imbalance within the flip fixture, ensuring that the primary mirror segment equipment is in alignment when hoisted and lowered. To improve the stabilization within the telescope domes, where there aren’t any threaded anchor holes for earthquake holds, I applied compact, easy foot engagement, floor brakes which will be mounted on the floor cart. Throughout these projects I have gone to the summit to analyze the issues at hand and have developed a list of requirements with multiple employees who specialize in problem solving. The improvements I have made will allow Keck to safely handle the primary mirror segments without putting the lives of their employees and equipment at risk.