TMT Supports Future Local Scientists and Engineers Through the Akamai Workforce Initiative

  The Akamai Workforce Initiative (AWI), a highly successful internship program, is starting another summer session  thanks in part to funding from the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Project.

The Akamai initiative certainly characterizes the college students who take part in this eight-week program. Since 2003, AWI has helped advance local Hawaii students into careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Some of the very jobs that will be created by the TMT project in the years ahead will likely be filled by AWI alumni.

“A lot of Hawaii students who didn’t know about TMT learn about the project through its sponsorship of Akamai, and a lot of those kids have then said ‘This is what I want to do  I want to work for TMT,” said Lisa Hunter, director of AWI at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. “The students are excited about having an intellectually rewarding, well-paying job at home.”

TMT has supported AWI for three summers. Historically, AWI has enrolled an average of 15 students each year on Maui and here on the Big Island. However, overall funding has been a bit tighter in recent years. Last year there were 11 Akamai students interning on Mauna Kea. This year the Big Island will host 6 students. Were it not for TMT’s help, the Big Island program would not exist this summer.

Elizabeth “Beth” Claire Vanaman

Hawaii Community College – Electronics

Internship – Smithsonian Submillimeter Array

Beth graduated with a GED in 2003 when she was 16. She began taking classes for liberal arts before deciding to take a break. When she moved to Hilo in 2008 she signed up for classes in the electronics course at the Hawaii Community College where she will be graduating with an Associates Degree in science. She aspires to further her education in the sciences.

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