Maui Business

Akamai Workforce’s STEM Interns to Present Work

August 3, 2015, 1:46 PM HST
* Updated August 3, 1:48 PM
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Akamai Workforce Initiative Interns. Courtesy photo.

By Maui Now Staff

The Akamai Workforce Initiative’s Internship Program will hold its Student Internship Symposiums on Hawai‘i Island, Maui and in Pasadena, California.

On Wednesday, Aug. 5, from 9  to 11:30 a.m. a symposium will be held at the Institute for Astronomy Auditorium (640 North A‘ohoku Place), in Hilo Hawai‘i Island.

On Friday, Aug. 7, a symposium will be held at the Keck Observatory’s Hualalai Theater in Waimea on Hawai‘i Island.

The Maui symposium will be held at the Pacific Disaster Center Training Room on Monday, Aug. 10 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.


The public is invited to attend the symposia, where 21 Hawai‘i college interns will present their summer projects with a follow-up question-and-answer period.


The Akamai Workforce Initiative’s Internship Program is designed for all community college and university graduates in Hawai‘i and also kama‘āina studying on the Mainland, who are pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields.

The Maui Symposium will feature Celina Bekins, Michael Gorman, Kourtney Kehr, Saxon Knight, Kevin Ryan and Derae Shibata presenting their project work at Air Force Research Laboratory, Akimeka and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope.

The Hilo Symposium will feature Tuan Giang, Tina Li, Hannah Twigg-Smith, Luke Van Der Spoel and Darren Wong presenting summaries of their projects for the Institute for Astronomy, Gemini Observatory, Smithsonian Submillimeter Array and the Subaru Telescope. In addition, Racieli Andrada, Paul Barnes and Jasmine Feliciano will present their projects with the Thirty Meter Telescope and Caltech Optical Observatories.


The Waimea Symposium features Brittany Denzer, Kapono Gaughen, Mickie Hirata, William Kaeo, Brialyn Onodera, Alexandra Van Pernis and Raycen Scott Wong presenting their project summaries on their work at W.M. Keck Observatory, Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope, Big Island Abalone Corporation, Cellana and the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority.

The Pasadena Symposium being held today features Racieli Andrada, Paul Barnes and Jasmine Feliciano presenting their projects with the Thirty Meter Telescope and Caltech Optical Observatories.

The Akamai Workforce Initiative, in its 13th year, provides college students with summer projects at observatories and other high-tech companies in Hawai‘i. The goal of the program is to advance the state’s college students in the STEM workforce and increase underrepresented groups.

Akamai uses a unique model that enables the current workforce to train the next generation with the skills and experience to be successful. The interns complete a seven-week project, giving them valuable practical experience and professional coaching. The addition of this year’s 21 interns brings the total number of college students served by the Akamai program to 300.

The Akamai interns received credit from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. All the students begin their internships in Hilo with a preparatory course in June before spending seven weeks at various intern sites including TMT (Pasadena), Institute for Astronomy (Maui), Air Force Research Laboratory (Maui), Cellana (Kona), NELHA (Kona), SMA (Hilo), Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (Maui), W.H. Keck Observatory (Waimea), Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (Waimea), Institute for Astronomy (Hilo), Akimeka (Maui), Subaru Observatory (Hilo), Big Island Abalone Farm (Kona), Caltech (Pasadena) and Gemini Observatory (Hilo).

2015 Akamai Interns
The 2015 Akamai Interns include Racieli Andrada, Maui High and attending California Polytechnic State University; Paul Barnes, Hilo High and attending UH Hilo; Celina Bekins, Seabury Hall and attending Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering; Brittany Denzer, Kealakehe High and attending Colorado College; Jasmine Feliciano, Maui High and attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Kapono Gaughen, Kealakehe High and attending UH Mānoa; Tuan Giang, Kaiser High and attending UH Hilo, Michael Gorman, Kamehameha Maui and attending Syracuse University; Mickie Hirata, Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy and attending University of Redlands; William Kaeo, Nanakuli High and attending Kapiolani Community College; Kourtney Kehr, Ponderosa and attending University of Colorado at Boulder; Saxon Knight, Homeschool and attending UH Maui; Tina Li, McKinley High and attending UH Mānoa; Brialyn Onodera, Kamehameha Hawai‘i and attending UH Mānoa; Kevin Ryan, Kapolei High and attending Honolulu Community College; Derae Shibata, King Kekaulike High and attending UH Maui; Hannah Twigg-Smith, Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy and attending Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering; Luke Van Der Spoel, Kealakehe High and attending Rice University; Alexandra Van Pernis, Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy and attending Brown University; Darren Wong, McKinley High and attending UH Mānoa; and Raycen Scott Wong, Waiakea High and attending UH Mānoa.

Fifty percent of this year’s cohorts are female and 32% are Native Hawaiian.

The Akamai Workforce Initiative was originally developed by the NSF Center for Adaptive Optics at UC Santa Cruz in 2002. Every major telescope in Hawai‘i and many tech companies have participated. The Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators at UC Santa Cruz leads the initiative, and funding for the 2015 Akamai Workforce Initiative program includes Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory Corporation, University of Hawai‘i system, THINK Fund at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, National Solar Observatory, National Science Foundation and University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

The Pacific Disaster Center is located at 1305 North Holopono St. in Kīhei.

An RSVP is required to attend the various symposium events.

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