Preston Ito was born and raised on Maui, and is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree at Davidson College in North Carolina. Finishing up his third-year, Preston is a physics major, but enjoys learning about computer science and has taken several coding classes throughout his undergraduate career. After Davidson, he hopes to continue his education at Washington University in St. Louis to get his Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering. He loves using math and science to model and solve real world problems, and highly values hands-on project experience.
Home Island: Maui
High School: King Kekaulike High School
Institution when accepted: Davidson College in North Carolina
Akamai Project: Creating an Engineering GUI for the KAPA Telescope Simulator
Project Site: M. Keck Observatory. Waimea HI
Mentors: Avinash Surendran and Sam Ragland
The Keck All-sky Precision Adaptive-optics (KAPA) project will be a next-generation tomographic laser adaptive optics (AO) system, projected to begin operation at the W.M. Keck Observatory in 2024. To test their AO algorithm, Keck has built a Telescope Simulator that simulates the KAPA system on a smaller scale and more controlled environment. The KAPA Telescope Simulator is being further modified to include a turbulence simulator, which uses a glass phase screen to simulate typical atmospheric turbulence at various altitudes and wind speeds. This 2-D simulator moves via two high-precision linear stages. The turbulence simulator requires control from a GUI that adjusts different parameters necessary for the AO simulator’s function. This GUI would also control some AO parameters, such as the wavefront sensor’s gain and frame rate, as well as have the ability to invoke other AO operational GUIs. The ultimate goal of this project was to create intuitive software that could be used by astronomers and engineers alike. The first mockups of the GUI were designed in Pencil Project. Once the finalized widgets and layout were translated to Qt Designer, the GUI code was implemented in Python with the PyQt5 graphics library. Throughout the development process, feedback from engineers and scientists was employed to guide the several iterations of the GUI. This constant collaboration with engineers and scientists was essential to create software that was intuitive, efficient, and met all the needs to fit within the KAPA project.