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An Akamai Initiative

A smart investment in the state’s stellar students.

October 1, 2009
Cindy Schumacher

 “After many years of working with community partners, the technology industry on Maui, and the observatories on the Big Island, we are now positioned to help create an innovative, culturally relevant Engineering Technology Program at MCC that will become a long-term pathway for local students to get technology jobs in Hawai‘i,” said IfA Director Lisa Hunter.

IFA Associate Director Jeff Kuhn added, “Improving technology education throughout Hawai‘i is the right thing to do, and is our shortest path to a self-sufficient future on Maui.”

The Akamai Internship Program, managed by AWI, builds and expands upon many years of the partners’ work. This internship is a unique program designed for university undergraduate or community college students who are residents of Hawai‘i. They can study in Hawai‘i or on the Mainland, but they must be interested in pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields. The curriculum includes a strong emphasis on problem solving, communication and teamwork.

Article Photos

Akamai intern Herson Bagay spent the summer working on a design for a telescope.

“The real spark of the program is the teaming among people who have a common goal,” said resident scientist Joe Janni.

Each year, approximately 15 college students are placed in the Maui high-tech industry in full-time summer positions to complete a research or technology project.

“The Akamai Internship Program is a huge benefit to Hawai‘i,” said intern David Elies from MCC. “The advisors, coordinators and teachers involved in Akamai go out of their way to make sure we succeed, both during the program and into the future.”

Participants begin with a short course in optics at MCC and a science/engineering communication course.

“We are provided with training on composing abstracts, posters, presentations, and end our program with a symposium to present our projects,” Elies said. “Maui has a growing technology industry and Akamai introduces us to some of the key businesses in our field.”

“Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to go to the Mainland for competitive, interesting and cutting edge jobs,” said 2009 intern Austin Barnes. Barnes is from Aiea on O‘ahu. He graduated from Iolani School in 2006 and currently attends Harvard University, pursuing a degree in astrophysics. His internship was with Oceanit, one of the Maui host organizations. His project was to work with the Oceanit team to process images from telescopes to increase the capability to track and identify objects orbiting the Earth.

“My Akamai experience has allowed me to learn about doing astronomy-related work in the private sector and also helped me to realize that I want to further my education,” Barnes said.

Intern Chelsea Schneider was born and raised on Maui. Following graduation from Baldwin High School in 2005, she attended California Lutheran University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in environmental science.

“I interned at the Pacific Disaster Center on a project called ‘Geo-Coding the Emergency Disasters Database,’” said Schneider. “An essential element of my project was the utilization of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that allowed the spatial representation of disaster-affected locations in the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT). My goal was to analyze whether certain socio-economic factors (i.e. gross domestic product, access to healthcare, literacy rates, etc.) have an effect on the degree of distress suffered by a population from an international disaster.”

The Akamai interns will continue with several years of informal activities designed to advance them in the workforce. In fact, the companies who sponsor the Akamai interns do so in the hopes that the science-minded youth of Hawai‘i stay here to help keep our level of competency and competition high.

Herson Bagay, Institute for Astronomy intern, summed up the Akamai experience for all the interns. “Working with scientists on really amazing projects opened up my perspective to the importance of high-technology work that will greatly benefit our society, and I want to be a part of it!”

For more information or to apply for the Akamai Internship Program, visit Contact Lani LeBron at for the Akamai Maui Program.



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