Maui News

TMT Provides $320,000 for 2019 STEM Internships

January 4, 2019, 9:52 AM HST
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The Akamai Workforce Initiative, a program that seeks to develop a skilled STEM workforce to meet the needs of Hawaiʻi’s growing high tech industry, is now seeking applications for the Akamai Summer Internship Program.

The program offers college students from Hawaiʻi an opportunity to gain summer work experience at an observatory, company or scientific/technical facility on Hawaiʻi Island and on Maui for an eight-week program from Sunday, June 16 through Friday, Aug. 16, 2019.

TMT mentors Amir Sadjadpour, Hiroshi Terada, Magnolia Ycasas; 2014 Kamehameha Schools – Kapalama graduate Keoki Massad; 2016 Waiakea High School valedictorian Olivia Murray; 2017 Kīhei Charter High School graduate Erica Sawczynec; John Miles, TMT mentor and Warren Skidmore, TMT Scientist together at the TMT Project Office in Pasadena, Ca.

Akamai Funders

The Akamai Internship Program is one of the main components of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s Workforce Pipeline Program whose primary objective is to train local Hawaiʻi island residents to be ready for the high paying, high tech jobs of the 21st century economy.  TMT is the primary funder of the Akamai Internship Program with $320,000 committed for the 2019 summer program. TMT also provides staff in Hilo and Pasadena to mentor interns. TMT has supported the Akamai Internship Program since 2009 and contributed a total of nearly $1,000,000 towards developing a skilled Hawaiʻi STEM workforce.

The Hawaiʻi Community Foundation Career Connected Learning program, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Maui also provides financial support to the program. Canada-France Hawaiʻi Telescope and the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo also provide in-kind support.

Akamai Mentor Windell Jones works with Kealakehe High School graduate and Akamai Intern Ian Denzer on their astrometric camera mount project.


Growing A Local STEM Workforce


The Akamai Workforce Initiative premise is that Hawaiʻi’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) workforce needs are attainable through a modest increase in retaining STEM undergraduates and broadening participation to include more Native Hawaiians, women and other underrepresented groups in STEM.

Upon acceptance into the program, Akamai interns are carefully matched with a project and a mentor who will supervise the intern throughout the project and integrate the intern into the work environment. All Akamai interns complete a one-week intensive residency preparatory course in Hilo where they gain the skills needed to be successful in the workplace and meet other interns along with Akamai staff and mentors. Throughout the program the interns get coaching on communication skills and do a presentation of their project at the end of summer at a public symposium. Interns receive credit from University of Hawaiʻi, Hilo.

Interns are paid a $3,200 stipend and are provided with housing, if needed, and travel to and from their home island to an internship site. Interns complete projects with a mentor at a company or observatory on Maui, Hawaiʻi Island or with the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory at their headquarters in Pasadena, California or with one of TMT’s instrument teams, such as the Wide-Field Optical Spectrograph at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

2016 Waiakea High School valedictorian and Akamai Intern Olivia Murray presents her work on construction of a TMT science case web tool.


Community Partnership

The Akamai Program is a community partnership. Each year more than 50 engineers and scientists from telescopes and tech companies generate ideas for intern projects that will make a real contribution to their work and will provide a challenging educational experience for the intern. Many mentors participate in the Akamai Mentor Workshop, where they plan how to provide an experience that will launch their intern into a successful career in STEM. Nearly 100 local mentors from 25 organizations have participated in the Mentor Workshop. The workshop has created a growing community of local professionals dedicated to brining local students into local tech jobs, which recently stimulated the formation of a Mentor Council that helps guide the program.

Interns in recent years have been placed at many Hawaiʻi Island firms including Akabotics, Big Island Abalone, Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope, Cellana, Hawaiʻi Electric Light Company, Gemini North Observatory, Liquid Robotics, Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaiʻi Authority, Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, Smithsonian Submillimeter Array, Academia Sinica Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Subaru Telescope, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy Hilo and W. M. Keck Observatory.

Maui placements include Air Force Research Laboratory, Akimeka, Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, HNu Photonics, Integrity Applications Incorporated/Pacific Defense Solutions, Pacific Disaster Center and the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy Maui.

Parker School graduate and Akamai intern Jaren Ashcraft talking with Luc Gilles about his work on the TMT first-light instrument, the Wide Field Optical Spectrograph (WFOS)

Akamai Demographics

Since launching in 2002, nearly 400 college students have participated in the Akamai program and at least 140 alumni are now working in science and technology jobs, with nearly two-thirds of them working in Hawaiʻi and contributing to the local STEM workforce.

Akamai accepts college students from Hawaiʻi (80% graduated from a Hawaiʻi high school or were born in Hawaiʻi), and a key objective is to increase the participation of underrepresented and underserved populations in STEM.

The Akamai Workforce Initiative alumni demographics include 37% women, 24% Native Hawaiian, and 47% underrepresented minorities. To learn more about the Akamai summer internship program, go to

Applications are due on Feb. 14, 2019 with applications available at the following link.

The Akamai Workforce Initiative is part of the Institute for Scientist and Engineer Educators at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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