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Terrance Arashiro And Dylan Sodetani

UH student and alumnus named engineer(s) of the year by HCES

SOURCE: Wilikī (Vol. 59 No. 12, February 2024)

The 2024 HCES Student Engineer of the Year is Mr. Dylan Sodetani!  Well, there must be a mutation of the COVID virus going around as we have another perfect cumulative GPA of 4.00 and a major GPA of 4.00… Dylan is completing his BS EE under the systems and data sciences track and will graduate this semester. Of course, he’s in the Honor’s Program and on track for a MS EE, through the BAM (Bachelor’s and Master’s) program, in the following semesters. So, another 4.00/4.00 in engineering for all four years at UH Mānoa!?! What is going on!?! By the way, he has been a UH Regent’s Scholar and has made the Dean’s List every semester that he has been enrolled at UHM! He is also a very proud alum of Pearl City High School!

While achieving this, Dylan currently is the President of HKN, the national electrical and computer engineering honor society, and an active member of the IEEE student branch.

Dylan formulated a strong interest in science and engineering well before he came to UHM. Through high school, his passion for STEM was built through participating in the math teams, the MATE underwater robotics competition teams, the HSSEF, and the civil engineering club and served as an ambassador for his Academy for Technology & Design. Above all, his participation in the Science Olympiad competitions fully cemented his passion for science and engineering. Besides earning 100+ medals in different STEM-based events at the state and national level, he served as the team captain, leading Pearl City to win their first-ever Science Olympiad State Finals Championship!!! Thus, over the past several years, Dylan has diligently worked with the Hawaiʻi State Science Olympiad (HSSO) director to help run the State finals tournament for the middle and high school divisions by organizing and managing the physics and engineering-related events. He is currently working towards organizing a Science Olympiad alumni association at UHM to bring together other motivated college students who are willing to volunteer their efforts to make the competition a success.

Taking his volunteer efforts further, Dylan has served as Hawaiʻi’s Elementary Science Olympiad tournament director since 2019. The program provides elementary school students an opportunity to compete in a wide array of STEM challenges ranging from testing their knowledge of planets to building the strongest tower out of pasta sticks. Every year, he has developed a catalog of science and engineering events for the tournament, organized competition venues and schedules, and interfaced with the teachers managing teams to provide them with the resources they need to fully support their students. It is important to note that he actually picked up this program when it was abandoned and has been working judiciously to deliver high-quality tournaments for hundreds of young students across the State. After each tournament, teachers have praised him for his impact on young students, and this fuels Dylan to do more!

Besides all the volunteering, Dylan has found time to develop his technical abilities through his work with the UH Mānoa’s Smart Campus Energy Lab (SCEL) since 2022. Through this lab, he has accumulated a strong understanding of embedded system design and PCB manufacturing through his work on the weather box project. This project develops sensor modules to collect weather data for generating forecasting algorithms that predict how much energy will be generated from renewable energy installations. His work has significantly progressed the communication capabilities and overall performance of the hardware of the modules and have served as the project lead for one of the hardware teams. In addition, he also served as SCEL’s lab manager where he coordinated between subteams and organized all-hands meetings. Over the Summer of 2023, he has been transitioning from hardware development to the machine learning research. Under the guidance of Dr. Anthony Kuh, he has been investigating the foundational understanding of machine learning algorithms to aid his research efforts in federated learning and plans on utilizing machine learning as the main focus for his Honors undergraduate research and his future MS research.

Besides his volunteering and lab work, Dylan gained invaluable experience in industry through internships with Burns & McDonnell, which provided the opportunity to perform electrical design work for large-scale government facilities, and with Northrop Grumman, which provided experience with RF circuits for the electronics of protected satellite communication projects and provided an opportunity to learn and simulate critical transitions within the circuits and perform impedance matching to optimize the performance of the electronics. He is seriously considering returning to Northrop Grumman’s RF & MS department to nurture and perfect his research curiosities.


Since 2013, Terrance Arashiro has served as only the 5th President of Austin, Tsutsumi and Associates, Inc. (ATA), a 90-year old kamaaina civil engineering firm established in 1934. After completing his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 1985, Mr. Arashiro earned project experience at Sam O. Hirota, Inc. and Wm. Dean Alcon & Associates, Inc. civil engineering firms before joining ATA in 1995 as a Project Manager, culminating in nearly 40 years of work experience within the local engineering community.

Some of Mr. Arashiro’s earliest work experience has contributed to his perspectives of what should be instilled to being a well-rounded engineer. His first job was as a custodian in his church at age 14, while also working with his father, a middle school math teacher, during summer breaks renovating and painting homes. He says his dad was the hardest working person he knew and taught him how to approach any problem logically. Later, he gained his first engineering working experience through an internship and entry level position with Sam O. Hirota, Inc., where he enjoyed in-field work with survey crews, cutting lines and holding rods in deeply vegetated gulches and working on the master plan and design for the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort’s first major renovations which still stand to this day. He shared that the late Mr. Sam O. Hirota was the Territorial Engineer prior to statehood, and was an “engineer’s engineer” who had an encouraging spirit to all staff. Eventually, moving to Alcon & Associates, he joined what would be a 3-man engineering company, doing all forms of work from field surveys and hand-plotting maps, to preparing invoices and managing clients. It was there that his understanding of what goes into running a business was honed. The company worked on a number of affordable housing projects for the Hawaiʻi Housing Authority which helped shape Mr. Arashiro’s understanding of serving communities with the most basic of needs, housing, and the sense of reward that it brought.

While much of his time today is focused on managing the ATA business, Mr. Arashiro is passionate about civil engineering, and continues to focus on all types of residential housing projects. His running joke or mantra (albeit true) is all civil projects start with grading and drainage. As he mentors other engineers at all levels, he remains actively involved in managing projects, most notably working on the Pulelehua and Honua’ula communities on Maui, the Rehabilitation of Streets and Complete Street projects for the City and County of Honolulu, and the Kukuiula development on Kauai. Within the walls of ATA, Mr. Arashiro is committed to fostering a strong company culture, building and growing a great staff of dedicated professionals. He participates in the company’s Health & Wellness initiatives, ESOP activities and events, Olelo O ATA newsletter, and various outreach and Career Days. Under his leadership, ATA has received several top 3 company recognitions as Pacific Business News’ Best Workplaces and Hawaiʻi Business Magazine’s Best Places to Work. He says, “The secret sauce is having a company of ‘giving’ people, and great people attract great people. It ultimately makes working at ATA highly rewarding.”

Mr. Arashiro has served on the board of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Hawaiʻi (ACECH), and currently serves the Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) Association of Hawaiʻi, the Board of Directors of Hawaiʻi Baptist Academy, and his home church, Olivet Baptist. He has been recognized as a Hawaiʻi Business News Black Book Top 250 Executive and Pacific Business News 40 Under 40 Honoree.

In his free time, Mr. Arashiro enjoys spending time with his grandchildren and family, volunteering with his church, skiing, golfing, surfing, painting, UH sports, and tinkering on home projects.

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