Small Business Matters: Does astronomy matter?
Read complete WEST HAWAII TODAY story HERE
I can locate the big dipper, the stars of Orion’s belt (I think), and yeah, I’m totally confident about locating the moon. But that about sums up my knowledge of astronomy. Maybe I’m a freak of astronomic ignorance, but then again, maybe I share something of the public’s unawareness of what goes on up in the sky and what motivates the people who study those things.
Our ancestors used the natural world around them as templates for thinking about their cultures. The heavens were particularly important to them, telling them where they were in the calendar, in planting and fishing cycles, or out on the ocean. This kind of astronomical observation, called by a variety of terms, ordered their experience of life.
Modern life has lost this reliance on the sky and we correspondingly pay less attention to astronomy than our ancestors did unless it slaps us right up against the head. Space launches and fly-by asteroids do that, they demand our attention. Also insisting on our attention is the brouhaha we’ve experienced around the astronomy industry here in Hawai‘i the last few years. Lines seem to have been drawn in the sand over the next phase of the industry locally, and just as differing political views have made inter-party cooperation difficult recently, the same can be said of being on opposite sides of the astronomy/ TMT/Maunakea kerfuffle.
“For some, astronomy matters because it’s providing them with a type of job not readily available elsewhere on the Big Island. Sixty to 65% of the people we employ are local hires,” according to Simon. “It’s a conscious decision to hire locally, so workforce development is a large part of our mission and we have a number of programs for that, like the Akamai Internship program, providing summer internships for college students. Eighty-eight percent of the kids in this program stay in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering, and math) and something like 100 Hawaii kids have been Akamai interns.”
“I can guarantee you that no other students in the world have access to these kinds of resources,” Simons says.
Read complete West Hawaii Today story https://printreplica.westhawaiitoday.com?selDate=20210419&goTo=A07&artid=0