Subaru Staff -Part 17-

November 30, 2007

We interviewed Atsushi Kawai and Kiaina Schubert who administer the computer network system at Subaru Telescope (current as of date).

Senior Engineer
Atsushi Kawai

- Please introduce yourself.

>My name is Atsushi Kawai. I was born in Kyoto, Japan. My favorite ways to use my time is to play tennis and to cook with my family.

- What prompted you to start working at Subaru Telescope?

I studied geophysics at Okayama University in Japan, and after graduation I started working at a scientific computer company as a system engineer. My work shifted to NAOJ around 1990, and my main job was to design and develop the computer system for Subaru Telescope. Now I am part of the staff at Subaru Telescope managing the computer system in this facility.

- Could you describe your job?

There are more than 1,000 computers operating everyday in the Subaru Telescope facility. These computers serve to 1) control the telescope and obtain observed data; 2) store enormous amounts of data safely, securely and access them at anytime; 3) manage our daily business such as updating websites or the mail system in our facility. My job is to monitor and maintain these computers and make sure they are running well. Also, whenever astronomers begin using a new instrument for the telescope, I reorganize and improve the system for the new instrument.

- What is important to administer the computer system?

Computers used to be operated in very limited way a decade ago; however, it has been changing recently. Now, we use them in the same sense as we use water or electricity. Therefore, whenever problems occur inside the facility, it affects huge numbers of workers and researchers. My job is to reduce the number of those problems and fix them as quickly as possible.

- Please give a message to readers who might be interested in doing your job.

Generally speaking, there is a very wide range of computer jobs. Some examples are: 1) designing and developing computers 2) software development 3) connecting computers into a network 4) supplying and selling the computers, and many more. My recommendation is to expand your areas of interest. It is essential to have wide range of knowledge and experience in order to develop and build a computer system.

System Administrator
Kiaina Schubert

- Please introduce yourself

My name is Kiaina Schubert. I was born in Honolulu and raised in Hilo. I am a system administrator at Subaru Telescope. I’ve been working here for 8 years. I graduated from University of Hawaii at Hilo in computer science in 1993. I have lived in Hilo for my whole life. I like to coach basketball at the Boys and Girls Club Big Island. I enjoy spending time with my kids. I go to the beach and park with my family.

- What led you to work at Subaru Telescope?

There was a job opening for a computer technician. It was October 1998. I was called for the interview during my honeymoon in California. A few months later, they offered me a position. I started working in June 1999.

- Tell me about your work

Currently, I am a systems administrator, which means helping and supporting computer systems at the base facility in Hilo, Hale Pohaku and some of the summit facilities. I support the part of the network between Subaru, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii at Manoa and University of Hawaii at Hilo. I also provide help for users at the base facility. We work closely with our vendors. We maintain and improve the network the vendor has installed. We work on many projects at the same time. Some projects require a few months, some require a few weeks and some are done immediately.

- What do you enjoy the most in your work?

Not getting called on Friday night. No problems over the weekend. Well, that’s a part of it, but I think most of it is starting a project and seeing it all the way through to implementation. It is a confidence builder. You can basically move from task to task and feel confident you are going to succeed.

- You are Hawaiian. How do you feel about the scientific achievements of the telescopes on Mauna Kea? How do you feel being a part of it?

I feel honored to work in a facility like this. I feel the same about being able to develop computer administrator skills. I think it’s great that we have the Subaru Telescope in Hilo because the technical job market is weak in East Hawaii or in this island. Subaru is doing a great job at keeping a good balance between supporting culture and bringing science to this island.

- A message to the readers who want to have a job like yours.

It is required to be patient and always learn new things. First, complete your education in computer science or get computer networking experience. If you can, see if they offer internships or student jobs. Have an open mind. Then you should be OK.

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