Back on October 28, 2015, USA Fundsannounced a $4.6M grant to the University of Hawaii, to help build Hawaii's innovation economy, boost the STEM workforce pipeline and reverse the "brain drain" of talent leaving the state.
Today's announcement included the $4.6M to UH and an additional $2.2M to the non-profit Project Lead the Way which provides project-based learning experiences for K–12 students and teachers across all 50 states. The grant to PLTW will help at least 48 Hawaii high schools implement programs in computer science, engineering or biomedical science. Also as a part of the initiative, Project Lead The Way will provide professional development support to teachers and work with local partners to ensure the materials and programs are culturally relevant.
USA Funds’ grant of $4.6 million to the University of Hawaii Foundation will support several initiatives, including the following:
Develop models of statewide industry, government and higher education collaboration to determine current and future workforce needs.
Create a continuous academic pathway in STEM education.
Support economic development and high-quality job creation in innovation and STEM areas of the state’s economy through just-in-time workforce development.
Enhance Hawaii’s student information system to inform students and advisers of the most efficient education pathways, especially for STEM degrees.
Create best practices in statewide workforce and education data collection and integration to help drive decisions by policymakers, education leaders and other stakeholders.
Create a STEM Center for Excellence that will serve as a resource to sustain STEM-related activities across the state.
With a workforce development pipeline, STEM curriculum development and the data to assess our progress, the hope is that Hawaii will be able to be competitive in the high-wage and high-demand science, technology, math and engineering fields.
Ke Ala `Ike - Pathway to Knowledge was a vision born out of the mid-90s from a project called the Hawaii Education and Research Consortium (HENC).This consortium then help to form the Hawaii Research and Education Network (HREN) with National Science Foundation funding. It has always been the vision of people like David Lassner to provide the best connectivity to the public educational entities in the State of Hawaii. And like any infrastructure project it takes time for all the resources, like funding to properly line up.
Last September another major milestone was achieved when the University of Hawaii was awarded several grants totaling $34M to build out broadband infrastructure in the state of Hawai through the NTIA and ARRA funding sources.
On our show last week Cliff Miyake, General Manager at TW Telecom announced that their company won the contract to install two 10 G circuits for Internet access. The central component of this project is the acquisition of a pair of 10 Gigabit per second optical network circuits on the new Asia America Gateway (AAG) cable connecting Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. At the Hawaii end, these circuits will be connected from the AAG cable landing site on Oahu near Kahe Point to the Hawaii Research and Education Network.
From the mainland landing site at Morro Bay, California, the AAG circuits will be connected to the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California's (CENIC's) Pacific Wave facility in Los Angeles and to Pacific NorthWest GigaPOP's (PNWGP's) Pacific Wave facility in Seattle. Both the Seattle and Los Angeles locations are peering points for major U.S. and international research and education networks.
These circuits will provide Hawaii's educational institutions with 20Gbps of connectivity between the HREN, major U.S. research and education networks, such as Internet2 and National Lambda Rail, and international networks in countries around the Pacific Rim.
What I find especially interesting is that this funding finally enables the University of Hawaii the ability to build their own fiber optic network. There was a time when broadband circuits were the sole domain of the major telecom providers like, Verizon and Hawaiian Telcom. That obviously is no longer the case. You now have the competitive local exchange carriers like TW Telecom and Wavecomm Solutions and companies that build their own private networks like Hawaiian Electric.
Although consumer Internet access rates will remain status quo in the near term, I can soon see Lassner saying he has achieve parity with Internet access speeds equal to or better than those in South Korea. It's an achievement well deserved and a long time in the making.
The University of Hawaii (UH) and the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the two organization's collaborative efforts to improve and solve sustainability and resiliency issues in the Asia Pacific region. The three signatories of the MOU were UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, Adm. Robert F. Willard, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command and UH Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw.
Both Admiral Willard and President Greenwood admitted when the group first got together in January 2011, both organizations were apprehensive about how this relationship would take shape, if at all. Historically the relationship between the University of Hawaii and the U.S. military has seen it's ups and downs.
President Greenwood said, "We are the two most influential and powerful institutions in the State of Hawaii, and yet we have not found the ways and connections to work together." But as a result of the conference in January, the two groups were able to craft a framework for an ongoing partnership. Colleagues commented later to Greenwood that this should have been done a long time ago.
The MOU identified three key area for immediate focus: Energy, Water and Disaster Management. Some of near term partnering areas include:
Examine implementing alternative energy sources for PACOM installations and on certain humanitarian assistance projects;
Leverage UH capability and training to complement and support PACOM roles in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief work around the region;
Build on UH and PACOM capabilities in a variety of water projects, particularly leveraging interests in the lower Mekong;
Define partnership projects in some aspect of ocean fisheries and maritime security.
They each emphasized taking immediate action on near term projects so that the success of working together would create traction. One project that comes to mind is the School of Nursing working with the Pacific Partnership and the hospital ship USN Mercy.
Key members of the steering committee include Rear Admiral Robin M. Watters, Dr. Rich Berry for PACOM and Dr. Gary Ostrander and Dr. David Lassner for the Univ. of Hawaii. It will be interesting to see what projects result from this relationship and whether or not they achieve the traction needed to keep a partnership like this viable over the years. If they can accomplish this Hawaii will certainly benefit.
* Photo courtesy of Dallas Nagata White