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.


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. 

Akamai Internship Program

Part of ISEE's Akamai Workforce Initiative, the Akamai Internship Program is aimed at advancing college students from Hawaii into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.  Interns complate an 8-week summer program, including a one-week intensive PREP course and 7-week work experience at an observatory, company or scientific/technical facility on Maui or Hawaii Island. Interns get coaching on communications skills, and present their work at the end of the summer at a symposium. ISEE has tracked more than 200 program alums and finds that they have persisted in STEM at a rate of 87% three years after their internship. 


AstroTech is a summer school in astronomical instrumentation, developed by ISEE and the Keck All-Sky Precision Adaptive Optics (KAPA) team. AstroTech serves upper-level undergraduates and early graduate students in astronomy, engineering, and physics, and uses hands-on lab activities and career-focused discussions to help build students’ technical and professional skills to persist and succeed in instrumentation.  The summer school also supports long-range goals of improving diversity and inclusion in the field of astronomical instrumentation, by recruiting participants from historically underrepresented groups and deliberately building an inclusive learning environment.

Thirty Meter Telescope Early-Career Initiative (TECI)

The TMT Early-Career Initiative (TECI) is designed to support the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory (TIO) by engaging graduate students, postdocs, and other junior-level professionals from across the TMT partnership (Canada, China, India, Japan, Caltech, and UC), in TMT projects. TECI participants gain skills and direct engagement in TMT that will initiate further involvement in TMT, as well as build career qualifications for similar projects. The program features a weeklong workshop and opportunities to work on an international team on projects supporting TMT.

Mentor Program

Building on experience from more than 300 student internship projects, ISEE has launched an 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 study of ISEE’s undergraduate internship program and ongoing work on a framework that supports understanding and communicating engineering solutions. 


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. 

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.