ISEE has developed and manages a range of programs. In addition, ISEE has an extensive array of workshops and short courses, many of which are embedded within the Professional Development Program, and some that are stand-alone.  ISEE programs include:

Professional Development Program (PDP) 

The PDP is ISEE’s cornerstone program, and is at the heart of the ISEE community. The program prepares graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and professionals to be effective, inclusive educators, while simultaneously impacting hundreds of undergraduates. The PDP includes two intensives (the Inquiry Institute and the Design Institute) and a practical teaching experience carried out in small teams.


Certificate of Completion in Teaching Innovative Laboratory Experiences, optional for PDP participants. Over 30 PDP alumni have received certificates since we began awarding them in 2010.


The Preparation for Research Experiences Program (PREP) is based on the CfAO internship program model. PREP use a variety of formats and time periods, can be implemented easily at new ISEE Chapter sites, and are aimed at preparing undergraduates to be successful in completing an independent project (e.g. a research project). Most PREPs are 2-day workshops that include an inquiry activity developed through the PDP.


Workshops for Engineering and Science Transfers (WEST) is a program developed by ISEE and is aimed at incoming transfer students from community colleges. Participants in the PDP design and teach an inquiry activity for a WEST in their own discipline (for example marine ecology, renewable energy, or imaging), along with other activities.

Inquiry Demonstration Labs

ISEE developed Inquiry Demonstration Labs as a venue for PDP participants to design and teach inquiry activities that are relevant to the curriculum of biology, chemistry, and physics courses at UC Santa Cruz. Faculty who are invested in curriculum change at UCSC may observe the Demonstration Lab and choose to adopt the PDP-designed activities and/or teaching strategies in their formal courses.

Undergraduate Internship Program

Originally funded and developed by the Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO) education program (now run by ISEE), ISEE’s Undergraduate Internship Program is aimed at advancing college students into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The program model was implemented at three different sites, and ISEE has been tracking the progress of program alumni (more than 300) since the inception of the program in 2002. Participants have persisted in STEM at a rate of 81%. The program model is still in place within the Akamai Internship Program.

Akamai Workforce Initiative

In partnership with the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, ISEE plays a major leadership role in the Akamai Workforce Initiative - or “Akamai,” meaning clever, smart, expert in Hawaiian. The initiative is dedicated to building a diverse, local workforce in Hawaii and advancing college students from Hawaii into the STEM workforce. Akamai has a long history of partnering with telescopes and supporting the growth of astronomical and remote sensing facilities in Hawaii, but broadly contributes to the development of a strong and diverse technical workforce in a wide range of fields.

Mentor Program

Building on experience from more than 300 student internship projects, ISEE recently launched a new effort to enhance mentoring practices. ISEE’s mentoring focus is unique: how the “design” of a student project and the moment-to-moment mentor-student interactions that occur as the student completes the project affect the overall experience. The program builds on a past ISEE study of ISEE’s undergraduate internship program and ongoing work on a framework that supports understanding and communicating engineering solutions.