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It was an opportunity of a lifetime for 19 local high school students who recently participated in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Engineering Summer High School Internship Program.

“It was different from high school,” said Kevin Furuike of Moanalua High School. “A lot more work, a higher expectation for us than high school.”

Giving high school students a higher level of academics is one of the goals of the six-week long program. The students received hands-on experience by assisting in on-going research and engineering projects.

“It’s not just for students who like math and build legos,” said Myhraliza Aʻala of the UH College of Engineering. “It’s for people that are creative and want to be innovators.”

“My project was using the EAE gene as an indicator to detect fecal contamination,” said University Laboratory School’s EJ Ingalasalo.

The internship takes place in state-of-the-art facilities at UH Mānoa and concludes with an official presentation from each student.

“Here they are really exposed to thinking on their own,” said Aʻala. “This year we added a component of career building and building a resume, writing a personal statement and preparing for college.”

The students who participated, who will be seniors in the 2012–2013 school year, say the program was an eye opening experience.

“There are so many different fields of mechanical, electrical, civil,” said Furuike of engineering. “There’s a lot of choices and college is coming up pretty soon.”

Much of the funding for the program came from Gear Up Hawaiʻi whose mission is to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

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