A valuable university of Hawaii to Mānoa’s engineering program provided 15 high school students rising from Hawaii and Japan with opportunities to conduct meaningful laboratory research, engage in professional development and cultural activities, participate in engineering challenges, and visit engineering companies to explore career opportunities in a variety of contexts.
The College of EngineeringThe signature internship program was relaunched this summer after a four-year hiatus and is now known as Junior Engineers Summer STEM Live (JESSE). Select for JESSEinterns went through a rigorous application process that included submitting transcripts, teacher recommendations, and essays demonstrating their passion for engineering.
At the start of the program, each intern was paired with an engineering lab and mentor—most of whom were graduate students—and given a meaningful research project to complete individually or in a small group. Seven labs participated and covered different engineering topics, from drone technologies to aerospace to water resources and geotechnical testing.
During the lab weeks, there were additional educational opportunities such as resume workshops, public speaking and presentation training, and site visits to various local employers. Participating industry partners included KAI Hawaii, Trane Technologies, Raytheon, Austin Tsutsumi & Associates, Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, Booz Allen Hamilton, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, SSFM International and Burns & McDonnell.
Engineering student learns valuable leadership lessons
At the head of JESSE were from college Engineering Student Ambassadors—current students who lead STEM outreach programs and planning university events throughout the year. JESSE lead and ride mechanical Engineering Senior Dedrick Sakuma took care of the coordination and logistics of the program, and also developed a mentoring relationship with many interns, advising them on studies and university life.
“Working with these rising high school students has definitely been an unforgettable experience,” Sakuma said. “It was a pleasure to know them and we hope to see many of them in uh next fall, or else back in Hawaii in the future as engineering professionals.
The course ended with a final evening at uh Mānoa during which interns enjoyed dinner and presented their research results and program results to an audience of family members, friends, mentors and university professors. assistant dean Song Choi was one of many attendees who were blown away by the quality of work and presentation skills of the interns.
“Having been involved from the start of the uh Mānoa College of Engineering Summer Internship Program 20 years ago, the quality of internship projects and professional presentations was beyond any caliber displayed in recent years,” Choi said. “This year’s project groups were exceptionally articulate and detailed in their project scope and results. I really appreciate all the efforts made by the organizers and the mentors. Fantastic!”
In a post-program survey, trainees provided overwhelmingly positive feedback on their experiences, with 100% of the group willing to recommend JESSE to others. What did they like? Applied learning, industry access, and new connections were key highlights.
It was a “great opportunity to meet like-minded engineering students and gain hands-on experience working on engineering projects,” said one student. Another liked the program because it “gives you a great insight into what engineering looks like on a professional level and it allows you to network and meet some really cool people and mentors.”
For more information, visit the Faculty of Engineering website.