Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Cooperative and Experiential Education
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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