38 Students to Complete Akamai Summer Internship Program

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The Akamai Workforce Initiative, a local program dedicated to advancing Hawai‘i college students into science and technology careers, is wrapping up its 2018 summer internship program with a series of symposiums next week 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. All 38 student interns are from Hawai‘i or enrolled at a University of Hawai‘i campus.

The students will receive 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.


This year’s interns and their placements include:

  • James Boyd – Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Hawai‘i Island
  • Malcolm Chun – Institute for Astronomy Hilo, Hawai‘i Island
  • Ian Denzer – Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope, Hawai‘i Island
  • Maria Daniella Douglas – University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, Hawai‘i Island
  • Meili Ellis-Tingle – W.M. Keck Observatory, Hawai‘i Island
  • Kenji Emerson – Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Hawai‘i Island
  • Kylie Higaki – Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, Hawai‘i Island
  • Mickie Hirata – Hawai‘i Electric Light Company, Hawai‘i Island
  • Austin Jennings – Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope, Hawai‘i Island
  • Janelle Laros – Akabotics LLC, Hawai‘i Island
  • Alicia Lau – W.M. Keck Observatory, Hawai‘i Island
  • Julina Lee – Subaru Telescope, Hawai‘i Island
  • Noah Levine – Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope, Hawai‘i Island
  • Jordan Li – Hawai‘i Electric Light Company, Hawai‘i Island
  • Matthew Lugo – Gemini North Observatory, Hawai‘i Island
  • Paul McCabe – Subaru Telescope, Hawai‘i Island
  • Jonathan Musgrave – Institute for Astronomy Hilo, Hawai‘i Island
  • Derek Ogi – W.M. Keck Observatory, Hawai‘i Island
  • Nicole Tabac – Liquid Robotics, Hawai‘i Island
  • Kekoa Tacub – Gemini North Observatory, Hawai‘i Island
  • Sean Tadekawa – Submillimeter Array, Hawai‘i Island
  • Akira Vernon – Subaru Telescope, Hawai‘i Island
  • Makena Wagner – Gemini North Observatory, Hawai‘i Island
  • Jonah Kalani Wengler – Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Hawai‘i Island
  • Jaren Ashcraft – Thirty Meter Telescope, UC Santa Cruz, CA
  • Alec Bayer – Institute for Astronomy, Maui
  • Romilly Benedict – Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority (NELHA), Hawai‘i Island
  • Alexandra Kaohi – Akimeka LLC, Maui
  • Tyler LaBonte – Air Force Research Laboratory, Maui
  • Keoki Massad – Thirty Meter Telescope, Pasadena, CA
  • Alexander Meyer – Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, Maui
  • Olivia Murray – Thirty Meter Telescope, Pasadena, CA
  • Corin Nishimoto – HNu Photonics, Maui
  • Maya Ooki – HNu Photonics, Maui
  • Ariel Peterson – Akimeka LLC, Maui
  • Erica Sawczynec – Thirty Meter Telescope, Pasadena, CA
  • Sae Hyun Song – Integrity Applications Incorporated, Maui
  • Erik Svetin – Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, Maui

This summer’s program concludes with student intern symposiums on Hawai‘i Island, Maui and in Pasadena, California beginning Monday, August 6. Hawai‘i college interns will present their summer projects with a follow-up question and answer period:

Hilo Symposium – Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m at the Grand Naniloa Hotel – Ho‘omalimali & Sandalwood Rooms. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Waimea Symposium – Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at M. Keck Observatory – Jerry Nelson Conference Room. Light refreshments will be provided.


Maui Symposium – Monday, Aug.  6, 2018, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the University of Hawai‘i Maui College – Ka‘a‘ike 105. Light refreshments will be provided

Pasadena Symposium – Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the TMT Pasadena Project Office – Board Room. Light refreshments will be provided

The Hawai‘i events are open to the public, but an online RSVP is requested online.

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. To learn more about the summer internship program, go online.

The Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory has become Akamai’s cornerstone supporter, and continues as the program’s largest funding source in 2018. This year, funding is also provided by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Hawai‘i STEM Learning Partnership at Hawai‘i Community Foundation (with support from multiple sources, including the THINK Fund and the Maunakea Fund), the Monty Richards Award and Bank of Hawai‘i Foundation, and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. Akamai is managed by the Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators at University of California, Santa Cruz. Additional support comes from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope and the W.M. Keck Observatory.

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