Application period now open for paid summer internships in STEM work

The Akamai Internship Program gives students the experience of paid work at an observatory, company, or scientific/technical facility on Hawai‘i Island or Maui.

Student sits at desk with computer screen showing graphs.
Above, Tyler Ogawa, born and raised in Hilo, was an intern in 2022 at Gemini Observatory where his project was titled “Looking for Unresolved Companions of Low-Mass Wide Binaries in TESS Light Curves.” He is a 2019 graduate of Waiakea High School and is currently majoring in astronomy at UH Hilo. (Photo courtesy Akamai Internship Program)

A summer internship program for community college and four-year university students that focuses on the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills while earning course credit from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, is seeking applicants.

The Akamai Internship Program, co-sponsored by the UH Institute for Astronomy (IfA), gives students the experience of paid work at an observatory, company, or scientific/technical facility on Hawai‘i Island or Maui.

The program contributes to developing a skilled STEM workforce to meet the needs of the state’s growing tech industry. More than 400 college and university students have participated in the Akamai Internship Program since its inception in 2003.

Doug Simons pictured
Doug Simons

Doug Simons, director at IfA, says the the Akamai Internship Program can be the first critical step in inspiring and opening career opportunities for Hawai‘i students.

“The high-tech sector is a vital engine to transforming Hawai‘i from being tourism-dependent to an innovation hub which can provide stable employment opportunities that can keep more of our local graduates from leaving our islands,” he says.

The eight-week summer internship, part of the Akamai Workforce Initiative, runs from Sunday, June 11, through Saturday, August 12, 2023. Applications are due by Feb. 14, 2023.

Interns are paid a $4,000 stipend and are provided with housing (if needed), and travel to and from their home island to an internship site. They complete their projects with a mentor at a company or observatory on Maui, Hawai‘i Island, or with Hawai‘i telescope partners at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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.

Akamai interns are carefully matched with a project and a mentor within their field, who will supervise the intern throughout the summer. The interns complete a one-week intensive 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. Mentors help interns gain work experience and build a network that will 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.

Observatories on Maunakea are pictured.
Maunakea observatories. (Photo courtesy W.M. Keck Observatory)

At least 250 alumni of the Akamai program are now working in science and technology jobs, with more than 125 working in Hawai‘i and contributing to the local STEM workforce. Akamai accepts college and university 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. Akamai Workforce Initiative alumni are 37% women, 23% Native Hawaiian and 47% underrepresented minorities.

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

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

Read full story at UH System News.