Makena Wagner was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii. Makena attended Kamehameha Schools Hawaii from the 6th grade until graduating in 2016. 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. She is currently playing for the varsity softball team at Smith. 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.

Home Island: Big Island

Institution when accepted: Smith College

Akamai Project: Designing a High Resolution Test Rig for Linear Encoders and Motordrives

Project Site: Gemini Observatory North

Mentors: Chas Cavedoni, Stacy Kang

Project Abstract:

As technology advances and infrastructure ages, research facilities like Gemini must proactively replace critical obsolete equipment. Linear encoders are mission critical to Gemini’s ability to precisely acquire and track astronomical targets with the telescope. Gemini typically replaces critical linear encoders and motor drives on the order of five to ten years, due to age, wear, and technological improvements. Gemini seeks to design a high-resolution test bed to validate and test linear encoders and motor drives. A useful test bed allows one to, evaluate and qualify functional requirements, performance requirements, and critical telescope interfaces, and confirm the hardware operates at standards equal or better than existing hardware. The proposed test bed will allow Gemini to evaluate two linear encoders and three motor drives that are mission critical to Gemini. To create the test bed one must engineer, design, procure of-the-shelf (OFS) and custom fabricated parts, assemble, test, and release the system to test engineers.