The Akamai Workforce Initiative, a local program dedicated to advancing Hawai‘i college students into science and technology careers, has announced the latest class of students for its 2016 summer internship program. 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 Hawaii. This year’s interns and their placements include:
All 30 students are from Hawaii or enrolled at a University of Hawaii campus, and nearly half are of native Hawaiian ancestry. The students receive credit from University of Hawaii, Hilo, and begin on June 13, 2016 with a preparatory course taught by Akamai instructors. They will then complete a seven-week project at various observatories and facilities on Hawaii Island and Maui.
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, nearly 330 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 Hawaii contributing to the local STEM workforce. Akamai accepts college students from Hawaii (80% graduated from a Hawaii high school or were born in Hawaii), 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 36% women, 25% Native Hawaiian, and 47% underrepresented minorities.
The Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory has become Akamai’s cornerstone funder, and continues as the program’s largest funding source in 2016. This year, funding is also provided by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Hawaii STEM Learning Partnership at Hawaii Community Foundation (with support from nine funders, including the THINK Fund and the Maunakea Fund), Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, National Solar Observatory, and the National Science Foundation. Akamai is managed by the Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators at University of California, Santa Cruz.