The Akamai Workforce Initiative, a local program dedicated to advancing Hawai‘i college students into science and technology careers, recently wrapped up its 2018 summer internship program with a series of symposiums highlighting the interns’ work.
With lead funding from the Thirty Meter Telescope, the Akamai Internship Program provides community college students and undergraduates with summer projects at observatories and other high tech companies in Hawai‘i. This year’s cohort of 38 student interns were from Hawai‘i or enrolled at a University of Hawai‘i campus.
The students received credit from University of Hawai‘i at Hilo as part of the program. The internship began on June 17 with a preparatory course taught by Akamai instructors, followed by a seven-week project at various observatories and facilities on Hawai‘i Island, Maui, and at TMT at the University of California Santa Cruz or Pasadena in the TMT project office.
The Akamai Workforce Initiative is designed to build tomorrow’s high-tech workforce by providing support to local college students over a broad range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Each student is matched with a mentor and is integrated as a member of the mentor’s group with daily guidance. Akamai mentors are prepared to provide an experience that will support their intern’s persistence in STEM, while they complete a real project valued by their host organization, through a unique workshop offered in May. The careful attention to mentoring, the preparatory course, and an ongoing communication course, are all important elements of the program and have been attributed to the program’s success.
Since launching in 2002 and including the 2018 cohort, nearly 390 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 Hawai‘i and contributing to the local STEM workforce. Akamai accepts college students from Hawai‘i (80% graduated from a Hawai‘i high school or were born in Hawai‘i), and a key objective is to increase the participation of underrepresented and underserved populations in STEM. So far, the Akamai Workforce Initiative alumni demographics include 37% women, 24% Native Hawaiian, and 47% underrepresented minorities.