TMT Offers $320,000 for 2019 STEM Internship Program

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TMT mentors Amir Sadjadpour, Hiroshi Terada, Magnolia Ycasas, 2014 Kamehameha Schools; Kapalama graduate Keoki Massad; 2016 Waiakea High School valedictorian Olivia Murray; 2017 Kihei Charter High School graduate Erica Sawczynec; John Miles, TMT mentor; Warren Skidmore, TMT scientist; at the TMT Project Office in Pasadena, Calif. Courtesy photo

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

The Akamai Workforce Initiative, a program that seeks to develop a skilled STEM workforce to meet the needs of Hawai‘i’s growing high tech industry, is seeking applicants for its Akamai Summer Internship Program.

The Akamai Summer Internship Program offers college students from the state an opportunity to gain summer work experience at an observatory, company or scientific/technical facility on Hawai‘i Island and Maui for an eight-week program from Sunday, June 16, through Friday, Aug. 16, 2019.

Akamai Funders

The Akamai Internship Program is one of the main components of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s Workforce Pipeline Program. Its primary objective is to train local Hawai‘i 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 Hawai‘i STEM workforce.

The Hawaii Community Foundation Career Connected Learning program (TMT’s THINK Fund at HCF is a major contributor to the 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 Hawaii Telescope and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo also provide in-kind support.


Growing A Local STEM Workforce

The Akamai Workforce Initiative premise is that Hawai‘i’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and 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 Hawai‘i at Hilo.

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

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, Hawaii Island or with the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) 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.

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.

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

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

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 Hawaii and 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. 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; applications are available online.

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


The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Project has been developed as collaboration among Caltech, the University of California (UC), the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), and the national institutes of Japan, China, and India with the goal to design, develop, construct, and operate a thirty-meter class telescope and observatory on Maunakea in cooperation with the University of Hawaii (TMT Project). The TMT International Observatory LLC (TIO), a non-profit organization, was established in May 2014 to carry out the construction and operation phases of the TMT Project. The Members of TIO are Caltech, UC, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Department of Science and Technology of India, and the National Research Council (Canada); the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a TIO Associate. Major funding has been provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.

For more information about the TMT project, visit

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