Hawai'i State News

Applicants needed for paid STEM-based internship

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Akamai intern Ethan Moore working at Gemini Observatory. Photo Courtesy: UH

The Akamai Internship Program offers college students an opportunity to gain paid summer work experience at an observatory, company or science/technical facility on Hawaiʻi Island, Maui or University of California, Santa Cruz while earning course credit at University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

The internship program is led by the Institute for Scientist and Engineer Educators at University of California Observatories, in partnership with the University of Hawaiʻi. 

As a part of the Akamai Workforce Initiative, the internship program seeks to develop a skilled STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workforce to meet the needs of Hawaiʻi’s growing high-tech industry. Applications for the summer internship must be submitted by Feb. 5, 2024. 

More than 500 college students have participated in the internship program since it launched in 2003. At least 250 alumni now hold careers in science and technology. 

“We are committed to provide empowering opportunities through Akamai to our Hawaiʻi students so they are ready for careers within the high-tech sector,” said Doug Simons, executive director at the UH Institute for Astronomy. “The state’s astronomy sector is one economic artery that provides employment for hundreds of local people and is an example of how Hawaiʻi can further diversify its economy through innovation.”


The eight-week internship will run from June 3 through Aug. 10, 2024. Interns will be paid a $4,400 stipend, provided housing (if needed) and travel support to their internship sites. 

The Akamai Workforce Initiative is led by the Institute for Scientist and Engineer Educators at the University of California Observatories in partnership with UH Institute for Astronomy and UH Hilo.  

Internship provides STEM work experience

Upon acceptance into the program, Akamai interns are carefully matched with a project and a mentor within their field, who will supervise the intern throughout the summer. All Akamai interns complete a one-week intensive preparatory course at UH Hilo, where they gain the skills needed to be successful in the workplace and meet other interns along with Akamai staff and mentors. Mentors help interns gain work experience and build a network that will help launch their STEM careers. The interns are coached on communication skills, and will present their projects at the end of summer at a public symposium.

Local students get local STEM jobs


Since its inception in 2003, more than 500 college students have participated in the Akamai Internship Program and at least 125 alumni are working in Hawaiʻi and contributing to the local STEM workforce. Akamai accepts college students from Hawaiʻi (80% graduated from a Hawaiʻi high school or were born in Hawaiʻi), and a key objective is to increase the participation of underrepresented and underserved populations in STEM. Akamai Workforce Initiative alumni are 37% women, 23% Native Hawaiian and 47% underrepresented minorities.

“I participated in Akamai in the Summer of 2015 after my junior year at UH Mānoa. Having the internship at the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope provided key skills and knowledge that led to my position at Pearl Harbor upon graduation,” said Raycen Wong, mechanical engineer at the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope. “I’m from Hilo and having a position in my field on Hawai’i Island, in particular at CFHT [Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope], became a longterm career goal due to the experiences I had as an Akamai intern.”

Placements at telescopes and tech companies

Interns in recent years have been placed at many Hawaiʻi Island firms including Big Island Abalone Farm, Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope, Cyanotech, Hawaiʻi Electric Light Company, Gemini North Observatory, Liquid Robotics, Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaiʻi Authority, Smithsonian Submillimeter Array, Academia Sinica Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Subaru Telescope, UH Institute for Astronomy and W. M. Keck Observatory.

Maui placements include Air Force Research Laboratory, Boeing, Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, HNu Photonics, KBR, Maui High Performance Computing Center, Pacific Disaster Center, Privateer Space and UH Institute for Astronomy. 


Placements are also available at University of California Observatories on the campus of UC Santa Cruz, and the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics and astronomical instrumentation projects.

Mentoring to ensure student success

The Akamai Program is a community partnership that offers an exceptional mentoring experience for students. 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 help launch interns into a successful career in STEM. 

“As a previous intern, I can truly speak to the pivotal experience that the Akamai Internship Program provided for me,” said Heather Kaluna, an associate professor of astronomy at UH Hilo who now manages the internship program at Akamai. “I am happy to be able to give back and support similar experiences for other Hawaiʻi-based students.”

Akamai Funders

This year the Akamai Internship Program is funded by Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, National Science Foundation (through the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, Gemini Observatory, Event Horizon Telescope, Slicer Combined with Array of Lenslets for Exoplanet Spectroscopy).

For more information go to the Akamai Workforce Initiative website. 

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