WAIMEA — After 10 years aspiring to work at an observatory, Eric Dela Rosa’s technology and science interest paid off in mid-November when he was hired as a system administrator at Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) in Waimea.
As one of eight tech employees there, he helps support and maintain the IT infrastructure of the telescope’s headquarters and summit, as well as provide support for the staff and guests.
“As a child, I was into the latest gadgets,” Dela Rosa said. “My sister noticed my interest in tech and convinced me to go into informational technology.”
Born and raised in Honokaa, his favorite subjects at Honokaa High School were science related.
“Honestly, even if my grades did not reflect it, my favorite subjects were physics, chemistry and math because it made me feel smart to be able to solve mathematical equations,” Dela Rosa said. “I’ve always had an interest in how things worked and how science and math were involved in our everyday lives.”
He took his first astronomy course while attending Hawaii Community College, where his major was information technology.
In 2003, while working at Ace Hardware he learned about a Keck Observatory event from a fellow employee.
“I was able to see what was going on at Keck and some of their IT systems at work. I was in awe of how everything worked there and the amazing things they were doing in astronomy,” Dela Rosa said. “After that day, I’ve told my friend at Ace that one day I was going to work at one of the observatories.”
In summer 2007, he was given the opportunity to participate in the Akamai Internship and was placed at CFHT.
“That was the first year CFHT had an Akamai intern. The work I had to do there, the experience gained and the amazing people that work there really solidified my resolve that CFHT was where I wanted to be,” Dela Rosa said.
In 2008, he attended SACNAS — The National Diversity in STEM Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. Out of 23 college students participating, he won the best project award for his Automating Astronomical Instrument Setup entry.
Before joining CFHT, Dela Rosa was the information technology director for five years at Parker School.
His favorite part of his new job so far is learning all the systems that control the CFHT telescopes and hearing about the latest advances in space.
“I’m able to participate in all the talks, where I get to learn about all the new discoveries,” Dela Rosa said. Being a part of this observatory really allows me to expand and see what wonderful things are done in astronomy. For 10 years, I’ve been waiting for my dream opportunity and I was lucky enough to land it this year. I know from the bottom of my heart this is where I belong and where I’m going to retire.”