Above: Fifteen Akamai program students working in East Hawai‘i finished their eight-week summer projects with a series of visual presentations at the 2019 Akamai Symposium on Aug. 14 in Hilo.

More than a dozen students presented the results of their work in the Akamai internship program during the annual symposium last month in Hilo.

Fifteen students—including two working with PISCES— shared visual presentations on their work in science and technology, demonstrating what they learned and fielding questions from the audience. One student learned to write a computer program to help local astronomers pinpoint the faint light of dwarf stars; another tested and wrote network security protocols for Subaru Telescope. Working under PISCES, Akamai intern Jaynine Parico developed a tethered reel system to improve the flight time of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to kill little fire ants in tree canopies. Also working under PISCES through Akamai, intern Joshua Tokunaga researched the structural properties of PISCES’ latest basalt sintering research, assessing the strength, porosity and thermal conductivity of sintered basalt bricks.

Intern Jaynine Parico answers questions about her project with PISCES during her presentation at the Akamai symposium.
Intern Jaynine Parico answers questions about her project with PISCES during her presentation at the Akamai symposium.

The event opened with several speakers including an assistant professor of astronomy at University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, Heather Kaluna. Kaluna noted that she was once an Akamai intern herself.

The students were among the largest Akamai cohort to-date, with 42 involved in projects on Hawaiʻi island, Maui and California in 2019. The group—nearly twice as many students as usual—was largely supported by the Thirty Meter Telescope, which provided about half of Akamai’s funding this year. Akamai also received funding from Hawai’i Community Foundation’s Career Connected Learning Program, W.M. Keck Observatory, Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, University of Hawai’i at Hilo, Canada-France-Hawai’i Telescope and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Led by the Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators at University of California, Santa Cruz, Akamai helps students develop skills and experience in Hawai‘i’s technical and scientific fields. The program received national recognition last year for its efforts to meet local workforce needs in astronomy, remote sensing and other related industries.

Akamai partners with a range of organizations and companies to create projects that are productive for the host sites and educational for students. In addition to science and engineering projects, Akamai students receive training in communication for formal and informal interactions. Surveys show 87% of students who participate in Akamai stay on a STEM-related pathway. More than 150 of the 427 interns who have worked with Akamai since 2003 are currently in STEM jobs; more than two-thirds of them work in Hawai’i.