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Maui Students Take Top Honors at STEM Conference

King Kekaulike High and Maui High Schools triumph at regional technology conference. “What is important is that the students are working with their communities.”

April 22, 2010
Jarred Williams

The 2010 Hawai‘i STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Conference on Friday and Saturday, April 9 and 10, was the first-ever regional conference dedicated to the EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology Program) curriculum at 15 schools, which involves over 600 students throughout the state.

Over 200 EAST students, teachers, parents, community and business leaders gathered on Maui to celebrate their work over the past year, share stories and meet other EAST students from different islands. 

For many, it was their first experience at a regional technology conference complete with breakout sessions, a formal awards banquet and exhibit presentations. It also offered an excellent opportunity for students to get the latest training and compete against other teams in challenging but fun software competitions.

Article Photos

King Kekaulike High School team members (left to right) Tara Yamashiro, Cole Drake, Al Gassim Sharaf Addin, Ashley Kawagishi, Stacy Yokoyama, Jason Bascon and Nick Mahoney won first place in the Program Impact Assessment category at the 2010 Hawai‘i STEM Conference.

The 2010 Hawai‘i STEM Conference was sponsored by the Maui Economic Development Board’s Women in Technology (MEDB’s WIT) project in partnership with the County of Maui and the Career and Technical Education Center.

For Isla Young, the program manager at MEDB’s WIT project, the final day—awards day—was the culmination of a yearlong endeavor. She participates in many different workforce development projects, but for her, this is one of the most critical.

“What is important is that the students are working with their communities,” said Young. “They have to figure out what they’re passionate about, and find a way to give back and solve problems while utilizing high-tech tools.”

The criteria for the competition focused on teamwork, critical thinking and utilization of the latest technology. Software competitions included 3D CAD, Game Design, Web Design, Logo Design, GIS and Video.

The EAST program and MEDB provide students with access to the best software and industry professionals to help them navigate through the learning process.

Maui’s King Kekaulike High School incorporated all of these characteristics, winning first place in the Program Impact Assessment category. Their project was a creative combination of ideas. They used top-of-the-line software and other technology to create designs for an Upcountry swimming pool and a King Kehaulike Arts Center on the school’s campus on the slopes of Haleakalā.

King Kekaulike High School, one of the first schools on Maui to participate in this program, has competed in the Hawai‘i STEM conference for nine years. Ashley Kawagishi, who has been involved in the conference for two years, was one of the lead presenters for the winning project. Even though she said the presentation was “crammed together” in two weeks, many of the ideas for it had been in the works for much longer.

Maui High School took first in the Web Design category. One look at the Maui High School Robotics Website will show you why. Visit

According to Maui High School student leader Kurt Rasos, “Any student who joins this program [EAST] is going to have obstacles to overcome. You just have to find a way around them.”

One of the obstacles was rewriting code to be compatible with both Apple’s Mac computers and Windows PCs.

“We wanted to make it perfect,” said conference participant Bryce Ribucan, the team captain of the FIRST robotics program at Maui High School. “We encountered lots of obstacles, but we worked together, and in the end, it came out great.”

At its heart, EAST is a coordinated attempt to provide today’s students with an educational atmosphere that enables them to gain insight into their own abilities to acquire and use information, solve problems and gain valuable experience in using this technology.



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