The College of Engineering is gearing up for its much-anticipated 21st Annual Banquet fundraiser scheduled for Friday, April 30, 2021. This year, the banquet will be a daytime virtual event, taking place from 11:00am – 1:30pm via the online platform Hopin, and paired with delicious catering from DK Restaurants. Gather your coworkers (either socially distanced at your workplace, or virtually) and get ready for another fun gathering of Hawai‘i’s dedicated and talented engineers and friends of the College.
Just like an in-person event, this year’s banquet will feature a balanced mix of student presentations, a formal program, and time to network with old friends and colleagues. The first hour of the banquet will be devoted to student projects and presentations via virtual booths, giving attendees the opportunity to see what students are creating and how the proceeds of last year’s fundraiser have been put to use (the 2020 banquet was cancelled due to the pandemic, but many organizations still graciously donated to an online fundraiser to support student activities). Attendees will be able to visit multiple booths and ask students questions to learn more about their research and design efforts.
The formal program will begin at 12:00pm, kicking off with remarks by our distinguished VIP guests and continuing with our College awards presentation. The 2021 honorees are:
- Distinguished Alumni Award: Joel Yuen, InSynergy Engineering
- Outstanding Service Award: D.K. Kodama, DK Restaurants
- Dean’s Award of Excellence: Brian Bowers and Dexter Kubota, Bowers + Kubota
Attendees will watch short videos about each honoree produced by the College, as well as videos honoring last year’s honorees, who missed out on being celebrated in a formal setting. The 2020 honorees were:
- Distinguished Alumni Award: Michael Matsumoto, SSFM International
- Outstanding Service Award: Nolan Tanaka, Northrop Grumman
- Dean’s Award of Excellence: Richard Sullivan, Northrop Grumman
Following the program, attendees will have the chance to network and talk story with one another via audio, video, and text chat on the event platform, just as they would normally do in a live setting.
Tickets and sponsorships
The annual banquet is a critical event for the College, as it is the primary source of funding for student projects, including senior design projects, as well as for student clubs and organizations. On an average year, the banquet generates over $100,000 in proceeds that get awarded to dozens of worthy student groups who apply for funds.
Tickets start at $25 for online access only to $10,000 for a Platinum Sponsorship package. One benefit of holding an online event this year is that alumni and supporters located outside of Hawai‘i may be included and participate for a nominal $25 fee (which counts as a fully tax-deductible donation to the College). College staff hope the new virtual format will attract new attendees who could not previously participate and generate additional interest from those who have relocated out of state, giving them an additional way to stay connected to the UH College of Engineering ‘ohana.
For full ticket holders and table sponsors, the event will also be a culinary delight, as guests will be treated to a delicious 4-course gourmet luncheon with a menu hand-selected by this year’s Service Award winner, D.K. Kodama. Bronze, Gold, and Platinum Sponsors will all receive (10) lunches delivered to their workplace (delivery included, provided by Elite Delivery Service) so staff can enjoy the banquet together while social distancing at their desks or viewing the event together in a large conference room. As another option, Sponsors may instead choose to forgo the delivered lunch the day of the banquet and for a small surcharge instead receive (10) dinner vouchers for a special 4-course pre-fixe meal for dine-in or takeout at D.K.’s Vino restaurant, redeemable for up to one year.
An added bonus this year for the College’s top sponsors is an additional VIP luncheon, scheduled at the sponsor’s convenience, at their place of work with special guest Dean Brennon Morioka. Gold sponsors will receive a luncheon for (5) staff and Platinum sponsors will receive a luncheon for (10) staff, plus the Dean and any additional College guests. The VIP luncheon will also be catered by none other than D.K., with a special banquet menu created just for the occasion. For the lucky few, this special event will be a unique chance to talk story with the Dean and get the inside scoop on current happenings and what’s coming up on the horizon and the College.
A team effort
College faculty and staff are excited to put together this year’s event in such a new format and hope the community will once again come out in force to support Hawai‘i’s engineering students. “It’s a challenge reenvisioning a live event in a virtual format, and still creating that sense of community and connection,” said Kim Perez Hults, Director of Marketing and Outreach Relations for the College and banquet organizer. “But it’s also a lot of fun, and I think this year’s attendees are going to be in for a special treat. We were so humbled by how our alumni and industry partners came out in force last year to support our fundraising efforts despite having to cancel the banquet at the last minute. We hope they’ll really enjoy what we have in store for them this year.”
It’s not only college staff making the event a reality each year – the fundraiser also comes together thanks to the Banquet Committee, a group of roughly a dozen industry professionals committed to ensuring the event’s success. This year’s banquet chairs are Ken Hayashida of KAI, Hawaiʻi, Inc. and Alan Arakawa of the Liliʻuokalani Trust. “Our Banquet Committee does an excellent job of providing guidance as we plan the event and reaching out to their peers to secure table sponsorships,” said Perez Hults. “We are so grateful to have them in our corner helping us to execute what is also one of the largest annual social events for our engineers in Hawai‘i.”