Thirty Meter Telescope

Astronomy's next generation observatory.

About TMT

Hawai‘i Island Workforce Pipeline Development

The Thirty Meter Telescope will be built and operated on one of the best sites in the world for astronomy, and is grateful for the use of one of Hawai‘i’s greatest natural resources, the skies over Mauna Kea. From the beginning of TMT’s engagement with Hawai‘i Island, eight years ago, TMT has been committed to showing gratitude to the island. In the many public meetings held, the one constant issue people brought up is the need for good job opportunities on the island, and, conversely, the need for qualified candidates for island high-tech jobs. People consistently remarked that they want opportunities for their children so they can come back to, or remain on the island. TMT has found our way to express our gratitude for the amazing opportunity to use the clear skies for astronomy!

When the TMT Environmental Impact Statement was written, TMT included a commitment to supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, training, and job development. TMT has been working with the State of Hawai‘i, UH Hilo, Hawai‘i Community College (HawCC), and the Department of Education (DOE) to help develop, implement, and sustain a comprehensive, proactive, results-oriented Workforce Pipeline Program that would lead to a highly qualified pool of local workers who could be considered for hiring into all job classes and salary levels.

To date that commitment has resulted in support for a number of programs on the island – i.e., State and Hawai‘i Island Science and Engineering Fairs, Journey through the Universe, Girls Engaged in Math and Science, and a number of robotics programs. TMT has also supported the Akamai Workforce Initiative, which places students in observatory and other high tech companies as interns. TMT has had interns from Hawai‘i at the Pasadena office for the past three years.

TMT has also sponsored new STEM initiatives, such as the TMT Big Island VEX Robotics Tournament and the Pacific Engineering and Education Summit.

Finally, TMT has been engaged with a team of State and County high tech workforce programs and has sponsored several teacher and countywide workshops on the development of a high tech workforce.

The Workforce Pipeline Program will expand in the future, and special emphasis will be given to those programs aimed at preparing local residents for science, engineering, and technical positions commanding higher wages. Key elements of the planned pipeline program include:

  • Identification of specific TMT job requirements that UH Hilo, HawCC, and DOE can use to create education and training programs.
  • TMT support of the education and training programs, including at least 4 internships per semester, apprenticeships, and at least 10 summer jobs for students.
  • Creation of a partnership between UH Hilo and TMT partner organizations, such as Caltech, the UC system, and Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and Canadian universities to attract and develop top talent. This would include internships, degree programs, and student exchanges.
  • Support of and active participation in on-going efforts to strengthen science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in Hawai‘i Island K-12 schools and informal learning organizations. One key element will be working closely with ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i to develop and support strong, ongoing STEM programs that meet the needs of the Hawaiian community.


A dedicated TMT Workforce Pipeline Program manager will coordinate this effort. The program will be focused on long-term investments to strengthen the current STEM skills infrastructure at UH Hilo, HawCC, and Big Island K-12 education organizations serving lower-income and first-generation college attending populations.

The scope of these investments will include strengthening language and culture programs and their integration with science and engineering to broaden the appeal of STEM disciplines to first time college attendee families while earning and retaining community support. In addition to the the Workforce Pipeline Program efforts, the following measures would be implemented by the Project to ensure that the economic benefit potential for the community and the State is realized:

  • To the greatest extent feasible, employment opportunities will be filled locally.
  • At least two full-time positions will be established for community outreach.
  • A mentoring program for children will be developed to provide support for those interested in astronomy, technology, engineering, and math during the entire elementary school-to-university graduate school educational path, with an ultimate goal of strengthening STEM skills throughout Hawai‘i Island.
  • Scholarship programs for students interested in careers in astronomy, engineering, science, and technology will be established.