Students Prepare for the Future

KIHEI, Maui, Hawaii – September 1, 2016 – STEMworks™ completes 2016 paid Summer Internship program


Students from across the state were given a unique opportunity to help local companies and organizations with STEM technical and agricultural-related projects during the STEMworks™ Summer Internship program sponsored by Maui Economic Development Board’s Women in Technology (WIT). As of August 31, thirty-three high school and college students successfully completed the dynamic summer program, working with MEDB and Host Company mentors on the islands of Kaua’i, Lāna’i, Maui, Moloka’i, and O’ahu. Interns and companies mutually benefited from the partnership as industry mentors offered invaluable knowledge, advice and career insight to the aspiring young STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and Agriculture (Ag) students. Simultaneously, companies worked with fresh and innovative talent.

Interns were successfully engaged in a wide variety of high-caliber, hands-on STEM and Ag projects. The students presented their advanced knowledge of the latest technologies and their exposure to new career fields, to a packed audience. The STEMworks™ Internship program matches students with a host company or organization, based on the host’s project needs and the interests and skills of the student.

“This year over 30 companies, organizations and sponsors gave student interns the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge in the workplace,” said Denissa Andrade, MEDB Intern Coordinator. “Interns worked closely with a designated project while attending weekly WIT webinars to help them develop college preparatory and career readiness skills. Benefits of the program included on-the-job training to develop abilities and protocol necessary for success in the workplace, as well as the opportunity to be a contributing member of a work team.”

Orlino Noneza III, a 2016 Kihei Charter School graduate, interned at A&B Properties’ ArcGIS Web Application and Historical Mapping Project. “My role was a Geographic Information System (GIS) assistant to mentor Jeremy Cabral,” he said. “ArcGIS is mapping software, developed by ESRI, which many government GIS offices use to organize geographical information. I logged historical maps that A&B has collected from the 1800’s to the present. Then I catalogued and digitized the maps into their ArcGIS system to make them easier for anyone in the company to access.”

“During my field work I learned a lot regarding GIS Technologies,” Noneza explained. “On our field trip adventures we discovered Triangulation Stations, small discs put in the ground by the government in the late 1890’s. They were used to measure co-ordinates and elevation.”

“The weekly college readiness webinar assisted all of the interns in the college application process,” Noneza noted. “I’m so grateful to MEDB, WIT and A&B Properties. I learned many new sources of information and new forms of technology that can help me in my future projects, including my career choices.”


During her astronomy research internship project at the University of Hawai’i’s (UH) Institute for Astronomy (IfA), Kihei Charter School senior Erica Sawczynec studied how to find the age of an open star cluster. “My basic project at IfA was analyzing the magnitude (brightness) of stars in an open cluster,” said Sawczynec. “Using different color filters, I created color magnitude graphs to which I fit isochrones to find their ages.” Isochrones are curves produced by computer-generated models of a group of stars born at the same time but each of which burns at a different temperature.


Working alongside her mentor, Dr. JD Armstrong, Maui Technology Education and Outreach Specialist at UH IfA, Sawczynec learned how to use photometry, the measurement of light to find the age of the star cluster.

“I thank MEDB and WIT for this amazing experience!” she added. “It helped me realize I want to continue studying astrophysics and astronomy. Additionally, MEDB’s weekly webinar provided me with college readiness and workplace exercises.”

“I am extremely proud of my student this year,” said Dr. Armstrong. “While she was able to determine the age of a young open cluster of stars, I challenged her by giving her some data from a very old star cluster and she figured that out. I always love the moments when the students really catch on to something!”

Ag interns and college students Noelani Reyes, Kealohalani Ka’aikalā and Jade Chihara spent their summer internship at Noho’ana Farm in Waikapū. “We are an organic lo’i kalo and diversified crop farm whose mission is ‘keeping culture in agriculture,’” said Noho’ana Farm Owner and Land Manager, Hōkūao Pellegrino. “Our three interns assisted in running our summer culture and place-based program for students in grades 6-7.”

“Prior to engaging with the younger students, they spent a good amount of time learning how to manage the farm,” Pellegrino explained. “This included traditional irrigation and water resource management, using farm equipment, planting and harvesting crops, and food production. Behind all of this work they learned many cultural values that are in alignment with their day to day responsibilities and an overall appreciation for being food stewards of the ‘āina.”

“Our internship at Noho’ana Farm gave us a more prominent concern for environmental issues,” the interns agreed. “We learned that caring for the land is everyone’s kuleana, responsibility.”


Colleen Sakuma, a Lāna’i High and Elementary School senior, interned at Lāna’i Community Health Center (LCHC). “During the course of my internship I learned the procedures of managing chronic diseases and how technology fits into that,” said Sakuma.

Sakuma’s LCHC mentor, Olivia Pascual, said, “Sakuma has a better understanding now of why we do certain tests and what the lab results mean. Additionally, she learned about the technologies needed for testing.”

“Our intern at Monsanto quickly learned that farming has moved into the digital age,” said Tim “Pono” Stevens, operations lead at Monsanto. “In addition to her research project and the day-to-day operations on the farm, we were able to teach her about plant breeding, GIS mapping and digital data collection.”

“My Monsanto research project focused on water use on the farm, primarily more sustainable practices for 100% recycled water,” said Karen Taroma, a graduating senior. “I am so grateful for this experience. Thank you MEDB and WIT!”


Goodfellow Brothers intern, Jaelyn Domingo said, “At the beginning of the summer, my ideas for my future were very vague. “Throughout my internship I studied land surveying, hydraulics, and software programming. I discovered that engineering is something I want to explore when I go to college.”

Goodfellow Brothers mentor Kevin Clarke said, “Domingo has a high aptitude for drafting, plus she learned new concepts quickly to add to her own software experience.”

Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company (HC&S) interns, Jett Bolusan and Maya Ooki researched Maui pests and beneficial pollinators. “Our assignment was to help HC&S’s transition from sugarcane to multiple new crops. We researched a variety of pests and their effects on certain potential crops and their surrounding ecosystem,” said Bolusan.

“We started Maui’s very first farmer-centered bug encyclopedia called Maui Bugpedia,” he explained. “Our goal was to provide an easy-to-use bug data base, including integrated pest management information such as the life cycles of pests, plus other helpful facts. We are very grateful to MEDB and WIT for the opportunity to create professional relationships and learn more about agricultural practices on Maui.”


“The STEM and Ag interns have worked closely with selected mentors to help our company with a high-quality project,” said Mae Nakahata, Director of Agricultural Research and Crop Control at HC&S. “The internship provided us with the means to develop a website to identify pests and control strategies, not only for HC&S but for all farmers.”

WIT’s STEMworks™ Summer Internship program is helping prepare leaders for the future workforce. The industry partnership with the intern program has provided a real-life handbook for students, pointing them to a direction of study in college as well as insights into career choices.

“Mahalo to the following Summer Internship sponsors and industry partners for their support,” said Andrade.

2016 Sponsors: Office of Naval Research; State of Hawai’i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations; County of Maui; Maui County Farm Bureau; MEDB Ke Alahele Fund; Maui High Performance Computing Center; Viking Construction; and Da Kitchen Café.

2016 Host Companies & Organizations: Cellana, Inc,; SSFM International; Charles H. Palumbo—Architect, Inc.; Lāna’i Community Health Center; Pῡlama Lāna’i; A&B Properties; Da Beach House; Da Kitchen Café; Goodfellow Bros.; Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company; Maui High Performance Computing Center; Maui Makers; Monsanto; Noho’ana Farm; The Maui Farm; UH Institute for Astronomy; UHMC Maui Food Innovation Center; UHMC Office of Continuing Education & Training; UHMC Rural Hawai’i Project; Viking Construction; Hui o Kuapā/Aloha ‘Āina Academy; and Hawai’i Drone Academy.