By Wendy Osher
A new $20 million grant was awarded to the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College as part of the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) project.
The announcement was made by US Senator Daniel K. Inouye, during the school’s official Launch Celebration on Friday.
The grant funds will be used to train Native Hawaiians on Maui in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.
A portion of the funding will go directly to Native Hawaiian students in the form of performance-based financial support and paid internships.
The grant will be spread out over 10 years, with $2 million being awarded in each year of the program.
The school’s Akeakamai I Ka Lā Hiki Ola (AIK): Scientific Exploration Beneath the Life-Bringing Sun proposal aims to engage Native Hawaiians to pursue careers in STEM fields by integrating strategies with traditional Native Hawaiian approaches to learning.
The program includes development of STEM coursework in the Hawaiian language, and will focus efforts on students in secondary schools.
“The complex social and environmental issues that confront the Hawaiian Islands require that the next generation of leaders be conversant in both science and culture,” said UHMC Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto. “Our hope is that these funds will provide an opportunity to bring STEM scientists, Native Hawaiian cultural and educational resources together to create a cohort of future leaders,” he said.
The mitigation grant comes following concerns raised during the project permit and approval process, over impacts the ATST could have on the cultural and natural resources of the area.
The $300 million ATST was designed to provide the sharpest views ever taken of the sun, allowing scientists to learn more about solar-terrestrial interactions.
It will be the largest solar telescope in the world, to be constructed within the 18-acre University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy site at the summit of Haleakala.
The UHMC Launch celebration focused on the college’s new name, its new four-year degrees, and several new grant-funded programs, including the Institute of Hawaiian Music and the New Farmer’s Institute.
Earlier in the day, the college hosted a blessing of the new Kaiao Student Success Center. The 2,000-square foot Center was built with the support of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and will be open for Native Hawaiian and other students to assist in their educational success.
*** Supporting information courtesy UHMC.
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