Cameron (Cam) R. Wipper
B.S. Astronomy (class of 2013)
- Where you are now and what you're doing:
- Currently employed as a Remote Observer within the Astronomy Group at Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) Corporation in Waimea (Kamuela), Hawaii. My primary duty in this position is to spend ~90 nights per year conducting the nighttime telescope operations and data collection for the CFHT.
- Places you have worked, interned or traveled to for your career
- JCMT Extended Observing Telescope Operator, Joint Astronomy Centre/East Asian Observatory
- Planetarium Operations Facilitator and Technician, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii
- Lead Laser Spotter and LGS System Operator, Gemini North Observatory
- Laser Spotter, Subaru Telescope, NAOJ
- Brief bio + What attracted you to UH Hilo Physics & Astronomy?
- Growing up in Nanaimo, British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada, I was enraptured by the stars. My parents tell me that, as a child, I read every astronomy book in our local library. As I got older, my interest in astronomy remained, but it was always just a hobby. It wasn’t until my first year at Vancouver Island University—my hometown school—that my passion for astronomy was reignited. Soon after, UH Hilo's Physics & Astronomy Program was recommended to me through a former UHH student I met in Canada. This recommendation, along with the program’s small class sizes and proximity to Mauna Kea convinced me, in 2011, to transfer from Canada to finish my degree.
- During my studies at UH Hilo, I quickly discovered I had a strong interest in the physical observatories and telescopes and the role they play as the facilitators of astronomical discovery. As a result of this realization, I made an effort to tailor my experience and education towards observatory operations and technical support, rather than scientific research. This ultimately allowed me to obtain my current position at CFHT, where, when on-duty, I am responsible for operating the telescope and related observatory subsystems as well as gathering astronomical data for astronomers here in Hawaii and around the world. In the future, I would like to study optics relating to telescope and instrument design.
- Advice for prospective/current students of UH Hilo Physics & Astronomy
- If you’re considering studying astronomy and physics at UH Hilo, do it! You will be taught by an outstanding faculty—some whose “other” job is at an observatory on Mauna Kea. The ability to learn about astronomy and physics at a university co-located with the single greatest site for astronomical observations is unbeatable. Plus, it’s Hawaii! Need I say more? Apparently not, I can hear you packing your bags now!
- For those of you already here, my single biggest piece of advice is to: hone your passion. Clearly you are passionate, that’s why you’re here, but try to find what small piece of the wide field that is astronomy and physics that excites you. Maybe it’s observatory operations (like me!), maybe it is cosmological research, maybe it’s opto-mechanical design…whatever it is, once you know what it is (or think you do), pursue it. Your passion for it will drive you forward and set you apart from your peers.
(last edit 1/30, 2017)