Steven Coss was born and raised near Sacramento, California. He moved to the island of Hawai‘i to attend college at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, where he majors in Computer Science. In his free time, Steven enjoys spending time with friends, watching TV shows via the web, playing video games, and generally having a good time.
Home Island: Mainland
Institution when accepted: University of Hawaii at Hilo
Akamai Project: Improving Inventory Efficiency at the Keck Interferometer
Project Site: Keck Observatory
Mentors: Kevin Tsubota and Ed Wetherell
One of the challenges of the information age is the storage and display of increasingly large amounts of information in an efficient manner. The interferometry lab at Keck Observatory is no exception: the laboratory has hundreds of devices, ranging from lenses to the actuators that move the lenses to the CPUs that control them. Information detailing each of these devices is currently stored within an Excel file, including a full description of all devices, their locations, their drivers, and the other devices they are connected to. Over time, the file has become somewhat bloated, and navigating it to look up specific information can be cumbersome. As this file is constantly used for troubleshooting, slow access has become a problem for the interferometry lab. In order to optimize both the data storage and reporting functionality, I converted the Excel file into a MySQL database. In addition, I wrote a Web-based interface in PHP to access and alter the database. Once the performance requirements of both the database and the interface were defined, I created and implemented a design for each. Finally, I added code to the PHP interface to handle many of the interface requirements, like parsing the data from a field to create a Web link. My new database format eliminates redundancy and maintains data integrity: rather than needing to pass around copies of an Excel file, the Web interface is available to everyone as long as Keck’s internal network is active. Also, the interface itself is straightforward and easy to use — the lab inventory data is now much easier to examine, update, and use when troubleshooting devices. This project will serve as the first step toward creating a consolidated, observatory-wide inventory database. Also, the Next Generation Adaptive Optics project will be employing an inventory database modeled on this project.