Akamai’s History, Funding, Partners and Affiliates

Akamai was developed by the Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO) education program headquartered at University of California Santa Cruz (funded by NSF Science & Technology Center program, AST-9876783). It began in 2002 when a small group of leaders from the CfAO, Maui Community College, the Maui Economic Development Board, and the Air Force Maui Optical & Supercomputing Site met and envisioned a new partnership aimed at increasing Maui’s capacity to develop a local workforce. The CfAO had just launched a new model program [link to: undergraduate internship program] that was intentionally designed to advance college students into science and technology careers, and the first action of this new partnership was to pilot this model on Maui in 2003. In addition, plans for a new four-year degree program in engineering technology began. In 2004 Akamai expanded to Hawaii Island in a partnership with W.M. Keck Observatory that soon engaged all the major Mauna Kea observatories. Akamai continued to grow and was funded for many years by the CfAO, and is considered to be an important legacy of the center.

In 2007, when the end of CfAO’s NSF funding was in sight, the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), and the University of Hawaii all began investing in Akamai. Akamai’s administrative home shifted to the Institute for Astronomy (IfA) and new headquarters were established at the IfA Advanced Technology Research Center in Pukalani, Maui. UC Santa Cruz continued to play a major role in Akamai, and as ISEE emerged out of the CfAO education program ISEE assumed leadership and provided significant intellectual resources for Akamai. A major grant from the NSF (AST-0836053; PI: Lisa Hunter; Co-Is: Jeff Kuhn and Mark Hoffman) and AFOSR (FA 9550-10-1-0044; PI: Lisa Hunter; Co-I: Jeff Kuhn) scaled up and expanded the program and leadership for Akamai. Lisa Hunter continued as Director, and two new Associate Directors were added: Jeff Kuhn (UH IfA) and Mark Hoffman (UH Maui College). Jerome Shaw (UCSC) was added soon after.

Akamai continues to offer Hawaii college students summer projects at observatories and industry sites, and is evolving to support and partner with the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) and the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), which have both begun construction in Hawaii and have pressing needs for a local workforce. Akamai now has offices and personnel in Santa Cruz (at the UC Santa Cruz Center for Adaptive Optics building where ISEE is located), Maui (at the UH Institute for Astronomy building), and Hilo (at the Thirty Meter Telescope building).

Partners, funders, and affiliates in Akamai include:

  • University of Hawaii at Manoa Institute for Astronomy
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • National Science Foundation
  • Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Akamai funding history

  • University of Hawaii
  • Center for Adaptive Optics
  • Thirty Meter Telescope
  • Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site (MSSS and MHPCC)
  • National Solar Observatory – Advanced Technology Solar Telescope
  • University of Hawaii Maui College
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Engineering
  • W. M. Keck Observatory
  • Gemini Observatory
  • Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
  • Smithsonian Submillimeter Array
  • Subaru Telescope
  • Boeing
  • Akimeka LLC
  • Oceanit
  • HNU Photonics
  • Pacific Disaster Center
  • Trex Enterprises
  • Pacific Defense Solutions
  • Kamehameha Schools
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory - National Security Field Experience Initiative
  • Big Island Abalone Corporation
  • Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA)
  • Hawaii Community College
  • Kauai Community College