Hawaiʻi Ocean Science and Technology Park & Natural Energy Lab Hawaii Authority (NELHA)

Mentor: Keith Olson

STEM Fields: Aquaculture; Chemistry; Engineering; Process Control; Environmental Science; Ocean Science; Renewable Energy Technology

Internship Research Goal: Conduct ocean research utilizing a combination of STEM skills in the academic disciplines of biology, chemistry, environmental science, engineering, and computer science.

Website: https://nelha.hawaii.gov
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nelha1

Graphic of blue mountain and moon.About Natural Energy Lab Hawaii Authority (NELHA)

NELHA is a State of Hawaiʻi Government Agency whose mission is to develop and diversify Hawaiʻi’s economy by providing resources and facilities for energy and ocean related research, education, and commercial activities in an environmentally sound and culturally sensitive manner. NELHA manages the Hawaiʻi Ocean Science and Technology (HOST) Park in Kailua-Kona. NELHA works to bring in and support ocean science, aquaculture and renewable energy, as well as other “green” and “blue” technology companies to help create local jobs and diversify our local economy.

One of the major things that NELHA does is provide water for businesses and research. The majority of the companies that work with NELHA are in the field of aquaculture and work with the seawater provided by this facility. These companies are able to use either surface seawater (which is very clean and warm) or deep ocean water (which is cold and full of nutrients). With these two types of water, companies can grow/raise so many different things, such as shellfish, fish, and broodstock for shrimp, in a clean, bio-secure environment.

Through hosting and supporting companies in the sustainable aquaculture industry, as well as other science, technology, and engineering companies, NELHA hopes to improve our access to food (i.e., increase food security), create local jobs and help our local economy.

Headshot of smiling personMeet Our Internship Mentor: Keith Olson

Keith Olson, Chief Science Officer at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA), received his Chemical Engineering degree from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He began his career developing and manufacturing engine oil additives for Chevron Research and Technology Company. In the late 90’s, he transitioned from private sector product development to academic research in Hydrology and Geochemistry at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In 2004, he moved to Hawaii from the San Francisco Bay Area and has been performing water quality analysis and developing a SCADA system for the 30 million gallon per day seawater pumping utility at NELHA. When he is not in the laboratory or working on a spreadsheet, he enjoys teaching yoga and indoor cycling classes, training for marathons, and playing with his two Hungarian Vizsla dogs.

Internship duties and responsibilities

Students’ projects may involve a blend of science, chemistry, environmental science, engineering, and computer science tasks. In addition, students may be asked to take water samples or inspect infrastructure at the NELHA facility. These tasks will be conducted outside for extended periods of time.

Examples of possible projects are:

  • Building a computer program or algorithm to identify fish on reef cameras.
  • Calibrating wave buoy.
  • Helping with the maintenance of the main seawater pipe system.

For a list past high school and college student internship projects visit: https://nelha.hawaii.gov/resources/nelha-internship-program/

Interns should be comfortable with and able to:

  • Handle scientific equipment.
  • Work outside in hot and uncomfortable environments.
  • Possess a desire to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and math.
  • Have a spark of curiosity and want to know how things work.
  • Enjoy observing things and make notes of small details of their observations.
  • Possess basic understanding of science and should have completed or planning to enroll in biology, chemistry and mathematics courses in high school.

2023 Internship Schedule:

  • Spring 2023: March 9th and 10th, 8am – 12pm
  • Summer 2023: July 10th to July 21st, Monday – Friday, 8am – 12pm

*Schedules are tentative and are subject to change. Interns will be required to work 8 hours in the Spring 2023. Interns will be required to work 40 hours in the Summer 2023. 

Tentative 2024 Internship Schedule:

  • Spring 2024: To Be Determined
  • Summer 2024: Monday – Friday, July 8th – July 19th, 8am – 12 pm

*Schedules are tentative and are subject to change. Interns will be required to work 8 hours in the Spring 2024. Interns will be required to work 40 hours in the Summer 2024. 

Please note that the project that the student will work on may require working more than 40 hours. 

Internship Meeting Location:

73-987 Makako Bay Drive
Kailua Kona, Hawaii 96740

Cover page of The Perspective newsletter with text and photos.
Summer 2021 Newsletter