It's back to school week at the University of Hawaii Maui College, with classes starting Monday. We've been busy with a number of projects over the past year that you may have missed. Here are just a few highlights:
* Sustainability initiatives. The college completed 95 percent of its collaboration with the University of California at San Diego and Johnson Controls to transform the campus into a center of excellence for sustainability. The project includes a high-performance central chiller plant, energy-efficient lighting, occupancy sensors, solar hot water heaters, low-flow plumbing fixtures and a campuswide energy management system.
This fall, construction also begins on photovoltaic carports to provide shaded parking for one-third of the rear parking lot. The 565-kilowatt photovoltaic system will reduce the college's energy costs by approximately $122,000 per year, and the project also will incorporate eight electric vehicle charging stations . . . and then the next phase will start.
* Campus expansion. Maui College dedicated the new $26 million science facility, 'Ike Le'a, with a ceremony recognizing all who contributed last semester. 'Ike Le'a includes eight laboratories, a 126-seat lecture hall, and classroom spaces to accommodate the science, technology, engineering and mathematics students, faculty and department. Teaching labs are dedicated to astronomy, optics, physics, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, biology, microbiology and the marine sciences.
The college also acquired 3.2 acres on Molokai to expand the Molokai Education Center. This will strengthen its capacity to provide higher education and economic opportunities to Molokai residents.
* International partnerships. The college has implemented academic programs and student exchanges with Kure National University of Technology, Shanghai Normal University, Toyama University and Mariano Marcos State University. This fall, the college welcomes 11 Chinese student interns from Shanghai Normal University. They will take courses in Hospitality & Tourism and Hawaiian studies.
* Hawaii's first hospitality educational and training academy. The Hospitality Academy of Maui will transform the college's former student housing site into an innovative facility for students to gain hands-on experience running a hotel. This learning environment will include industry-designed facilities, executive suites, the latest visitor-sector technology, green design and an authentic visitor service. An "adopt-a-room" strategy will allow hotels and resorts on Maui to showcase their commitment to applied learning.
* Daniel K. Inouye Allied Health Center. The bottom floor of the college's Noi'i building will be renovated to house the Maui Oral Health Center, which will be re-named the Daniel K. Inouye Allied Health Center. At the center, currently located off-campus, students in the dental assisting and dental hygiene programs practice their skills under supervision by providing low-cost dental exams and cleanings to underserved Maui County residents. In 2011, the center treated more than 3,000 patients, and since 2002 has supported more than 65,000 appointments.
* The Maui Food Innovation Center. This project seeks to solve the "missing link" problem for Hawaii's local farmers and food manufacturers, and is being developed in collaboration with the Maui County Farm Bureau. The center will serve as a business incubator where growers and entrepreneurs can turn excess harvests or low-priced fresh crops into more profitable value-added products, such as frozen, dried, preserved or canned foods.
* CareerLink. Current students, Maui College alumni and local businesses are taking advantage of the college's CareerLink program. It uses an online database to connect students and alumni with employers. A one-stop shop, CareerLink offers resume development, job interview training, career exploration and shadowing opportunities, as well as internships and graduate job placement assistance.
Local businesses are invited to participate and can review student and alumni resumes online, and connect with CareerLink to recruit for Maui College degree-related open positions. Through this service, students have interned or been placed at companies like Ardent Management Consulting, Hawaiian Cement, Maui County, the Grand Wailea and the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa. Approximately 100 Maui businesses are already participating in the new database system, with more than 1,000 businesses statewide. For more information, call CareerLink at 984-3348.
To learn more about what is happening at UH-Maui College, visit our website at maui.hawaii.edu/news or Facebook page www.facebook.com/UHMauiCollege.
* Clyde Sakamoto is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka'ana Mana'o means "sharing thoughts." The column appears on the fourth Sunday of each month. It is prepared with assistance from UH-Maui College staff and is intended to provide the community of Maui County information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.