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Successfully Building a Diverse Telescope Workforce: The Design of the Akamai Internship Program in Hawai'i

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Internship, Co-Op, and Professional Development Programs

Tagged Division

Cooperative and Experiential Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

29

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/31030

Download Count

16

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Paper Authors

biography

Austin Barnes Institute for Scientist and Engineer Educators

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Austin Barnes is a program manager with the Institute for Scientist and Engineer Educators, which is housed in the Division of Social Sciences at UC Santa Cruz. Coming from an educational background in astronomy and engineering, Austin manages the Akamai Internship Program, a seven week summer internship program in Hawai‘i dedicated to retaining local undergraduate participants in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

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Tamara Ball University of California, Santa Cruz

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Dr. Tamara Ball is a project-scientist working with several education and research centers at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work with the Institute for Science and Engineer Educators focuses on informing efforts to redesign undergraduate STEM education to reflect workplace practice and engage students in authentic scientific inquiry and problem solving through design. Her work Sustainable Engineering and Ecological Design (SEED) collaborative at has focused on developing programmatic structures to support interdisciplinary and collaborative learning spaces for sustainability studies. She is the program director for Impact Designs - Engineering and Sustainability through Student Service (IDEASS) and Apprenticeships in Sustainability Science and Engineering Design (ASCEND). She is interested in understanding how extracurricular and co-curricular innovations can support meaningful campus-community connections in higher education and improve learning outcomes. Her research to date has focused on educational designs that emphasize learner initiative and agency through inquiry or problem-based learning in formal and informal learning contexts. She has published several papers on the characteristics of learning environments that support or constrain opportunities for any students (including those from non-dominant backgrounds) to participate in key science and engineering process skills such as scientific argumentation. Her work is largely informed by the principles and perspectives on human development and cognition articulated by Cultural Historical Activity Theory. Putting theory into practice, she teaches a service-learning course at UCSC wherein interdisciplinary teams of students work in an layered apprenticeship model with community mentors to design and implement sustainable solutions to water, energy, waste, transportation and social challenges using "green technology". Dr. Ball has worked as a research fellow with two NSF Centers for Learning and Teaching and most recently on several NSF projects that focus the integration of engineering and social science to support the advancement of experiential learning for sustainability in higher education.

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Christine R. Starr University of California, Santa Cruz Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0002-8662-0387

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Christine Starr is a doctoral student in graduate program in developmental psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Christine's research focuses on STEM motivation and achievement among girls/women and other underrepresented students; sexual objectification; stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination.

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Scott Seagroves The College of Saint Scholastica

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Scott Seagroves is a physics instructor at The College of Saint Scholastica and a long-time affiliate of the Institute for Scientist and Engineer Educators at UC Santa Cruz.

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Kauahi Perez University of Hawaii, Manoa

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Kauahi Perez is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, studying the diagnosis of Plumeria species using DNA sequences and physical plant traits.

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Lisa Hunter University of California, Santa Cruz

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Lisa Hunter is the Director of the Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators. She has worked in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce development for twenty years, including in Hawaii to prepare local college students for careers at observatories and related industry. Lisa developed and directs the Akamai Internship Program, which has retained more than 85% of participants, including students from underrepresented groups, in the STEM pipeline. She works closely with scientists and engineers to increase access and opportunities through effective education, mentoring, and building partnerships that bridge academia, industry, government, and community organizations, both nationally and internationally.

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Abstract

The outcomes of a longitudinal study of the Akamai Internship Program, a seven week summer internship program in Hawai‘i, demonstrate success in retaining diverse undergraduate participants in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Established in 2003, Akamai partnered with all major astronomical observatories on Hawai‘i Island and Maui and many industry partners to productively engage local college students in workplace projects. Qualified locals are highly desired by island employers including observatories and industry partners who work with advanced technologies while operating in small communities. Over the past fifteen years, Akamai has been recognized for its ability to source and train local talent. The program uses research on persistence, equity, identity, inclusion and self-efficacy from the learning sciences in a suite of program components designed to advance students into STEM careers. Unlike many research experience programs, Akamai accepts students from diverse backgrounds with a wide range of GPAs and early in their college years, when they are most at risk of leaving STEM - 56% are lower division students upon acceptance. Akamai also provides support for mentors to instill inclusive, collaborative mentoring practices and to ensure mentors can effectively prepare interns for integration into the 21st century workplace. To date, Akamai has paired over 350 STEM undergraduates representing the full diversity of the islands including many groups traditionally underrepresented in the STEM workforce such as women, Native Hawai‘ians and other minorities, with professional mentors in their field, with 75-80% of placements directly related to the observatories. A recent analysis tracking 222 alumni three years after leaving the program showed that 87% persisted in STEM as evidenced by either their continued pursuit of a STEM degree (17%) or entrance into the STEM workforce (70%) after graduating. Interestingly, factors that typically predict disparities in persistence were not predictive in this study. Specifically, women and students from underrepresented minority groups persisted at the same rate as majority students. These findings suggest that with support informed by research, students of all backgrounds can successfully persist in STEM. In this paper we discuss key aspects of the Akamai Internship Program model believed to support retention while promoting inclusion to meet the needs of the telescope workforce community. We also recommend elements of the model that can be adapted to inform other workforce development programs.

Barnes, A., & Ball, T., & Starr, C. R., & Seagroves, S., & Perez, K., & Hunter, L. (2018, June), Successfully Building a Diverse Telescope Workforce: The Design of the Akamai Internship Program in Hawai'i Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/31030

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