East Hawaii News

Legislation Aims to Establish Aero Technology Campus in Hilo Honoring Kahele

February 12, 2016, 11:42 AM HST
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Senator Gilbert Kahele. Hawai'i State Senate photo.

Senator Gilbert Kahele. Hawai’i State Senate photo.

The Gil Kahele Aero Technology Campus could be the future name of a School of Aeronautical Sciences at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.

On Friday, the Senate announced that the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Technology, along with the office of Aerospace Development, could be tasked with developing a plan for the campus.

Before he passed away, the late Senator Gilbert Kahele introduced a series of bills, one of which was Senate Bill 3073, which would establish the School of Aeronautical Science at UH-Hilo. The bill must first pass the current session.

State Senators Brickwood Galuteria and Donovan M. Dela Cruz introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 27 and Senate Resolution 10, which requests the Office of Aerospace Development to create a plan for the campus in Hilo.

“This is more than the Senate’s way to recognize the good work of the late Senator,” said Senator Galuteria. “This is a memoir that reflects the way he operated, bringing people together to plan and build for a better Hawai‘i. And you see that in the resolution, it brings together various groups to develop a plan for the Hilo community and the state of Hawai‘i.”

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The development of industry hubs in order to create jobs has been among work Senator Dela Cruz has been coordinating with DBEDT on.

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“We are looking at all the industries and assets relating to aerospace, aeronautics, and aviation. If the School of Aeronautical Science is established at Hilo, then we need to make sure the school is supported by all industries related to these fields,” said Senator Dela Cruz.

DBEDT has adopted a goal of creating 80,000 new jobs with salaries over $80,000 in technology and innovation by 2030. Creating an aero-technology campus in the Hilo area could help the State meet this goal by supporting a new industry and retaining local graduates, according to the Senate.

“This is an important reality for jobs that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)”, said Senator Dela Cruz. “As we continue to focus and push STEM curriculum in our schools, we need to make sure there is a pathway from our schools into the industry so our students can have the proper skills to be career or college ready.”

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The plan for the aero-technology campus will be facilitated and coordinated among Hawai‘i’s public, private, and academic sectors, in line with the vision of Senator Kahele and continuing to build upon the foundation he had developed over the years.

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