Education & Imagination | Summer 2018 Interns at Oceanit


It was Oceanit’s privilege to invite nine interns from across the U.S. to work in Honolulu for the Summer 2018 Internship Program. This summer’s students joined several different Oceanit project teams and worked on a wide range of engineering problems while developing their own innovation ideas.

These nine students were chosen out of over 200 applicants in a competitive process that took into consideration their education, skills, career goals, and Oceanit’s current project requirements. The interns that join Oceanit each year work with our esteemed engineers and scientists, consider their futures in STEM, and develop projects and products during their time at in Hawai’i. Their work culminates in an Innovation Project, formally presented to a review board.

Intern Sydney Parrish is working towards a degree in Chemical Engineering and Nanotechnology at University of Southern California, and was mentored by Dr. Dexter Poon, Senior Biomedical Scientist at Oceanit. Sydney’s Innovation Project was concerned with diminishing pollution from Styrofoam, which takes hundreds of years to decompose and is harmful to the environment. It involved using an enzyme found in mealworms to decompose polystyrene, instead of the expensive and difficult processes currently used for recycling.

Julia Kawano is attending Williams College for her B.A. Computer Science, and was mentored by Oceanit Senior Scientist, Dr. Ed Pier. Julia’s project was called, “My Cyber Sidekick,” an anti-bullying app to be used in schools. This app connects children’s social media accounts and gives them a platform to record cyberbullying instances and connect then to a supportive adult. It offers a useful and user friendly alternative to parental monitoring and anonymous reporting.

Evan Zinner is studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois. His mentor was Dr. Matt Nakatsuka, Senior Materials Engineer. His project, titled ‘Dropwise Condensation Heat Pipes,’ is a system that increases the effectiveness of the cooling process used on computers servers. Efficient cooling is a significant problem in infrastructures like power plants, server farms, refineries, chemical processing plants, and more.

Anthony Tang is a student of the University of Washington in the field of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Erika Brown, Senior Materials Engineer, mentored him in his project of The Future of Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling. Only about one percent of lithium ion batteries are recycled, due to the uneconomical processes currently used and the speed in new lithium ion technology; Anthony’s project, which reverses the battery’s aging process, projects a 29 percentage point increase in lithium ion batteries recycled.

Micah Turner is working towards his MS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado. His mentor was Engineer Matthew Sullivan, and Micah worked on a project using an existing Oceanit product. His EverPel-treated Drainage System can decrease drainage system repair frequency and cost, and helps minimize environmentally damaging solutions by coating home plumbing with an omniphobic surface that does not leech its chemicals into the water. This coating lowers adhesion, increasing efficiency, and keep surfaces from corroding or degrading at their normal rate.

Kevin Kam will pursue his MS in Electrical Engineering at Columbia University, and was mentored by both Dr. Ganesh Arumugam, Senior Materials Engineer, and Dr. Michael Hadmack, Applied Physicist. Kevin’s Innovation was a Non-Invasive Water Monitoring System, which safely monitors water quality with pipe sensors to work on increasing the quality of potable water. The technology used, called impedance spectroscopy, senses when something has entered the water via electrolysis.

Bobby Bueche was mentored by Dr. Jacob Pollock, Senior Scientist, and Dr. Chris Sullivan, Strategic Director at Oceanit. Bobby is studying Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University. He designed a novel shoe insole: ‘ComfiFoot,’ a low cost and completely customizable orthopedic insert. The inserts are heat molded for custom fit and are made out of a unique thermoplastic with a pentamode structure, giving support while remaining flexible enough to be used in shoes.

Michelle Ojiri is a student of Calvin College studying Chemical Engineering and worked with Dr. Venkat Kamavaram, insert title, as her mentor this summer. She created ‘SleepWell,’ a sleep quality tracking system to help suggest ways to be better rested. It is an EEG/EOG brain sensor embedded in a sleep mask, to analyze and monitor brain activity, REM, and sleep stages.

Chaselyn Pugh studies Computer Science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and was mentored by Dr. Ed Pier. Her Smart Garden concept is a disease and pest detection and control platform that helps automate small scale agriculture. This will identify vegetation and use machine learning and automation to factor in and work around local ecology and needs of individual gardens.


Our interns really enjoyed their time working and innovating at Oceanit this summer;

I achieved my set goals through working on thought provoking and difficult problems.

I have a very productive and beneficial summer. I think I was successful because I had great projects to work on that kept me busy on real world problems that allowed for me to grow the skill sets that I have. Also, the team of people at Oceanit are great mentors.

I definitely was able to gain a lot of new knowledge into the professional research and development world of engineering. Working with my mentor, I realized the complexity of doing cutting-edge innovation. I was able to develop new skills like design thinking and lab skills that I will carry for the rest of my career.

[Outside of normal office hours] Joining the basketball team, doing yoga with people, and having lunch with a couple coworkers really cemented relationships I made here at Oceanit.

This has provided exposure to a wide range of technology and fields of study. While I still have no idea what I want to do in the future, this experience has shown me different potential career paths

It helped me feel like a larger part of the company and gave me the opportunity to see all aspects of work that is done here.


In addition to being both personally and professionally rewarding, our interns were able to bring nine sets of fresh eyes to our projects and helped Oceanit better meet the needs and expectations of our project leads. We look forward seeing how they progress both as students and in the future as STEM professionals.

“This summer, I was extremely impressed at how the interns were able to stretch themselves outside of their comfort zones, and were one of the most enthusiastic and engaged cohorts we have had in a while. Just thinking about the interns who worked on materials and coatings projects, you have a mechanical engineer with a background in spaceflight who pushed forward a coating that will be used by utility companies. You have an intern with an interest in neurological diseases who learned to cultivate marine biological environments to test fouling. A former teacher with no engineering background learned to apply and characterize coatings. And a mechanical engineer working with robotics working on a specific problem for the oil and gas field. I’m not sure what they thought they were getting into at the start, but how they accepted every challenge we put to them really makes you excited about the future engineers and scientists that Hawai’i is producing now.

-Matt Nakatsuka”

As our interns leave for the summer and gear up for a new semester, we would like to extend our appreciation and well wishes to them all in the future- we look forward to seeing all they accomplish.

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming an Oceanit intern, we accept applications beginning in August for the following summer. Please visit our Summer Intern Program page here for details and the application process.


Our intern group with CEO and founder Pat Sullivan


Chaselyn Pugh presenting to her peers

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Kevin Kam speaking with Hawaii News Now

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Julia Kawano explaining her project