Showcase your STEM project!

In 2013, MEDB, with the endorsement of the late Irene Hirano Inouye, established the Daniel K. Inouye Innovation Award to honor the late Senator’s vision for Maui as an innovation center for the latest scientific and technological advances. This award is presented to a Maui County project team that demonstrates the most innovative use of STEM tools and capabilities to serve and improve our community. 

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Award guidelines
How to Enter
For more information contact:

Maui Economic Development Board
1305 North Holopono, Suite 1
Kihei, HI 96753
(808) 875-2300
Past Daniel K. Inouye Innovation Award winners
2018 winner

Justin Hanks Graduate of King Kekaulike High School

Hanks was a member of MEDB’s STEMworks™ program since attending middle school at Kalama Intermediate. Over the years he participated in Industry Day, the Hawaii STEM Conference, Cybersercurity competitions. He spent several years as a STEMworks™ Intern and during one summer created an innovative temperature and moisture probe with user interface. He was responsible for creating STEM camps at Kula Elementary, Makawao Elementary, and Pukalani Elementary; and was able to integrate the amazing resources and skills he learned in the STEMworks™ program to promote innovation and creativity into the camps offered to inspire our future STEM stars.

2017 winner

Renezel Lagran Graduate of Maui High School

Lagran received a standing ovation after sharing her story about her struggles when first coming to Hawaii from the Philippines not knowing how to speak English; and how she was able to persevere and flourish as a result of her teachers, mentors, and MEDB who provided her with the confidence, tools and resources to succeed. Today, this MEDB STEMworks’ alumna is one of the state’s most highly innovative and successful STEM leaders winning multiple awards and recognition both locally and nationally.

2016 First Place winner

Jasmine and Keona Conroy-Humphrey of Lanai High School

The Conroy-Humphreys used the training they received and the Geospatial (GIS) software in their MEDB STEMworks™ lab to locate, load in the collector app, and create an updated map of where the fire hydrants are located on Lanai. The electronic map helps to support the Lanai Water Company and the firefighters to be able to geolocate the fire hydrants in a timely manner which will help to make Lanai a safer place. Their project is being used by the Maui County Fire Department.

2016 2nd Place Winner

Evelyn Haase of Molokai High

Evelyn invented a pH sensor that can measure accurate data detecting the tiniest changes to the Ocean pH due to environmental fluctuations. Not only does it improve accuracy, but it offers a huge cost savings compared to the current systems available to marine scientists. Estimates are that her device is 1/42 of the price (which is about $200 to compared to $11,000 for today’s technology costs) and requires half the maintenance.


2016 3rd Place Winner

Jett Bolusan of Maui High and Maya Ooki of King Kekaulike High

Maya Ooki and Jett Bolusan worked over the summer to support HC&S’s transition plans for the sugar lands. Working with Mae Nakahata of HC&S, Ooki and Bulosan researched and created a comprehensive list of pests on Maui lands and compiled them into a “Wikipedia-like” website entitled “Bugpedia” to help not only HC&S plan for new crops, but to be a tool for all Maui Farmers.


2015 First Place winner

Sarah Jenkins and Lily Jenkins of Molokai High School

In this first-of-its-kind study, this sister team revealed the socioeconomic and ecological effects of Red Mangrove, one of the most invasive coastal vegetation in Hawaii, which will ultimately have an impact in addressing Molokai’s fragile ecosystem. They used GIS to interpret satellite data, aerial imagery, historic maps and coastal surveys to determine the extent to which red mangroves have migrated seaward on Molokai’s south shore; and were able to analyze the mangroves’ effects and predict their future impact on nearby reefs.

2015 Second Place winner

Amber “Momi” Afelin, Kea`aokahonua Davis and Alexandria Simon of Molokai High School

This student team’s project, “Investigating Agar Extraction from Gracilaria salicornia,” focused on finding viable ways to efficiently remove the highly invasive seaweed Gracilaria salicornia or Gorilla Ogo from our reefs.


2015 Third Place winner

Jeremie Amano and Gabriel Rayburn of King Kekaulike High School

This student team developed a “MISC Report-A-Pest App” that the public can use to send sightings of invasive species to MISC (Maui Invasive Specials Committee) using mobile Android devices.


2014 First Place winner

AJ Ramelb – King Kekaulike High School graduate

Ramelb was recognized for using technology in the campus STEMworks™ lab to design a paintbrush grip for special needs students. Using 3D Computer Aided Design, he created a “brass knuckle” design for students who are challenged with holding a paintbrush, even with assistance. Ramelb’s design has led to the production of four grips for students with severe disabilities.