Marissa Hirakawa is currently attending Honolulu Community College (HCC) as a Computer Electronics and Networking Technology (CENT)  major. Marissa is in her sophomore year and has one more semester before graduating with an Associates of Arts (AA) degree.  Her current education goal is to complete a AA degree at HCC then move on to a BA at the University of Hawaii West Oahu. Marissa’s career goal is to become a network and systems administrator.  She would like to be able to setup, manage, and maintain a computer networking system.

Home Island: Oahu
Institution when accepted: Honolulu Community College

Akamai Project: Upgrading Gemini Observatory’s Wireless Network to 802.11n Technology
Project Site: Gemini Observatory
Mentors: Chris MOrrison, Simon Chan & Tim Minick

Project Abstract:

My project has been to upgrade the wireless network from IEEE 802.11g to IEEE 802.11n technology.  The advantages of the IEEE 802.11n standard are faster speeds, stronger signal, and better throughput.  While the project is currently focused on Gemini’s Hilo Base Facility on the Big Island, the results of the project will also be applied to Gemini’s sites in Chile.  The challenge has been to upgrade the network with optimum placement of the wireless access points (WAP) and minimizing security risks from signal bleed (propagating signal into uncontrolled areas).  We are using open-source software called NetSpot App to perform a site survey to analyze the current wireless network for signal strength, noise and interference.  Taking advantage of NetSpot App, a method was developed to limit the signal bleed by turning down the antenna’s transmission strength of the WAPs and confining the dBm level, which keeps the signal from traveling too far outside the facility.  After determining the strength for the antennas, placement of the WAPs will be done one-by-one.  A measurement of the signal will be taken, then a WAP will be placed near the edge, allowing some overlap of signal between WAPs for optimum coverage.  Once the placement map is developed, the next step will be to proceed with the physical upgrade of the equipment in each of the facilities.