May 16, 2016
The state Board of Land and Natural Resources unanimously affirmed Judge Riki May Amano for the contested case hearing regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope, and she set the pre-hearing conference for May 16.

Many wonder if Hawaii can move forward beyond the obstructions of those who oppose TMT. Are we to be defined by our past? Try as we may, we cannot rewrite history. Is it possible for us to grasp and make the latest science and technology our own? Can we afford to turn our back on the future while the rest of the world strives in the direction of science, technology, engineering and math fields, education and careers?

Consider the world as it is. Immuno-therapy cancer drugs, Space X's successful launch of a satellite and landing, the Pluto flyby New Horizons, robotics, super computers, terra-forming Mars with volcanic soil from the Big Island, improved medical imaging, NASA's support to understand and solve issues of climate change, 3D printing of a child's heart so that the pediatric surgeon can practice, agriculture, prosthetics - all of these are STEM fields. Last year our community colleges saw a large increase in STEM degrees.

TMT has made a commitment to our future generations with the Think Fund at Hawaii Community Foundation and the Akamai Workforce Initiative. In 2015, 24 students from across the islands received awards ranging from $3,000 to $7,500 each from the Think Fund; 14 of these students are from East Hawaii and nine from West Hawaii. They are at various stages of their education with half of these students in their first two years of college.

Two hundred sixty-five college students participated in the Akamai Workforce Initiative. Eighty percent of Akami participants graduated from a Hawaii high school or were born in Hawaii. Akamai is committed to groups that are underrepresented or underserved in STEM. Its most relevant participant demographics are as follows: 41 percent women, 52 percent underrepresented minorities, 23 percent Native Hawaiian and 37 percent community college students.

To date at least 140 Akamai alumni have obtained science or technology jobs because this fund provides actual work experience and focuses on professional skills. The ultimate goal is that the Akamai alumni are hired, and toward that end, 30 started new jobs in 2014.

Hawaii saw an increase of STEM degree declaration in community colleges in 2015, perhaps because of the growing awareness that a continued increase in STEM careers is forecast at least through 2018.

Hawaii exists because of courageous voyagers who over generations began crossing vast oceans with a firm understanding of the stars and planets. How much longer will the search for identity and what is Hawaiian define what kind of future lies ahead for the future generations of Hawaii? Why is it impossible to be Hawaiian and be an astronomer or astrophysicist? Who has the right to decide what the future hold for the generations ahead?

Our keiki have the right to the best education, science and technology, and no one has the right to take that from them.

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The Thirty Meter Telescope Project has been developed as collaboration among Caltech, UC, the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), and the national institutes of Japan, China, and India with the goal to design, develop, construct, and operate a thirty-meter class telescope and observatory on Mauna Kea in cooperation with the University of Hawaii (TMT Project). The TMT International Observatory LLC (TIO), a non-profit organization, was established in May 2014 to carry out the construction and operation phases of the TMT Project. The Members of TIO are Caltech, UC, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Department of Science and Technology of India, and the National Research Council (Canada); the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a TIO Associate. Major funding has been provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.

For more information about the TMT project, visit, or follow @TMTHawaii.


Sandra Dawson

TMT Manager, Hawaii Community Affairs