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Ian Robertson

Faculty Spotlight: Ian Robertson

Dr. Ian Robertson has been named the new chair of the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at UH.  Dr. Robertson has been teaching at UH for 28 years and specializes in Structural Engineering with an interest in structural response to earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and long-term effects, multi-hazard mitigation and structural rehabilitation, and field reconnaissance after natural hazard events.  He received his doctorate in Civil Engineering from Rice University in 1990.  He is the College of Engineering’s first Arthur N.L. Chiu Distinguished Professor and a six time winner of the Hi Chang Chai Award, an annual award voted on by the students.

Although he belongs to numerous professional organizations, perhaps the most impressive is the Hawaiʻi Earthquake and Tsunami Advisory Committee (HETAC), which he has served on since 1994.

Michael Chun

Alumni Spotlight: Michael Chun

Civil Engineering, MS ’68

Dr. Michael Chun graduated from UHM with a MS degree in Civil Engineering. After earning his PhD in Environmental Health Engineering at Kansas University, Dr. Chun came back to UHM to teach graduate courses in the School of Public Health and College of Engineering.

After a decade at the university, Dr. Chun became a Chief Engineer for the City and County of Honolulu and later held a private practice with the firm of Park Engineering. Then he became the first Native Hawaiian and alumnus appointed as President of The Kamehameha Schools, serving a total of 24 years.

Dr. Chun is currently on the board of Society of Native Hawaiian Engineers (SNHE), the YMCA of Honolulu, Polynesian Voyaging Society, Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests, Hawai’i Preparatory Academy, Partners in Development Foundation, USS Missouri Memorial Association and Lunalilo Home.

Katlynn Vicuna

Student Spotlight: Katlynn Vicuna

Aerospace Engineering, BS ’22 (anticipated)

Originally from Boston, Katlynn grew up working alongside her father as a plumber, so she was good with her hands from an early age. After high school, she went the “finding myself” route and ended up working various jobs–minimum wage ones that required maximum effort. During this time, she moved between the East Coast and West Coast several times.
Not very happy with what she was doing, she decided to seek a job that involved working with her hands.

After having a deep discussion with a friend and seeing a commercial for Universal Technical Institute, she decided to pursue a degree as an automotive technician, completing the core program with a 4.0 GPA.

From there, she was accepted into a special program with Mercedes-Benz in Boston. Ironically, she was working for Toyota at the time, but got fed up with that job and quit. It was the only time she ever left a job without having another one lined up. With few options, she applied to a temp agency and ended up working as a machine mechanic that evening. However, she suffered a spinal injury on the job, requiring surgery and a lengthy rehab. Although the injury spooked her, it did not deter her from returning to work once the rehab was completed.

She got married and decided along with her husband that New England was too cold. Wanting to find a midway point between his home (Philippines) and hers, they settled on Hawaiʻi.

Armed with the skills she developed in the Mercedes Benz program, she applied to and was hired as a technician at Mercedes Benz of Honolulu. Unfortunately, she was soon back in rehab for a torn shoulder suffered on the job. It was during this time that she did a lot thinking, wondering if there was longevity in her career or would she just be waiting for injury number three. When she returned to work, she began to analyze her day to day routine and realized that she wasn’t happy. She wanted more. She wanted to be part of something that would make an impact on humanity as a whole rather than staying in the same routine for 35 more years before she could retire. She started taking online classes and quit her job to start attending school full time.

Nowadays, she attends UH as a mechanical engineering student, pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering and volunteers in the restoration department at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. She has also been able to get involved in a few NASA related programs. She is literally and figuratively reaching for the stars!

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