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Maui News: Here’s How the MaiTai Kitesurfing Camp Could Help Turn Maui Into The Next Silicon Valley

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Mahalo for sharing the article Bryan.
I would be very interested in a coworking space that was centrally located and accessible by bike. Also joining in on the conversation of next steps. Talked to Tommy Russo briefly about this a few months ago and would love to continue towards that goal.

Roxanne Darling said:
You know, this article did a good job of laying out the "next steps." I am contacting a colleague at Oceanic Business Class to get them involved in the conversation. I would love to see them support a startup coworking space with robust wifi included as they to o would be a direct beneficiary of this type of biz growth on Maui.
The Mai Tai'ers are great people and the type that Maui needs more of.  Good job Keith and Tommy!
Interesting read, some good ideas there..
great article. I'm thrilled to see the interest here.

This is a great article, but we need more than software.  We need inventors, we need ....



3000-5000sqft co-working space?  Put aside a 1000-2000 for a Maker Space (or help us build the one we have started).

We put in the laser cutter, small cnc bots, 3d printers, electronics benches, etc. and people can make real prototypes (and short production runs).

Computer Science classes are one thing.  Teaching Physical Computing kicks it up a whole nother notch.  And you can get kids fired up on it at a young age with not too much effort.  Being able to program something that interacts with the environment is much more immediate feedback rewarding than esoteric CS exercises.


Lets build a Fab Lab here on Maui.  Then start having regular Make-cations where Vistors (like the MaiTai folks or their employees) can learn how to make (almost) anything.


I've been hearing about Mai Tai quite a bit lately but never knew the details. Thank you for sharing!

I note this line in the story: "Then there’s our university system, which lacks a robust computer science program. (As Tai put it, “you want the next Mark Zuckerberg to be coding here in his dorm room.”)"  Indeed, Tai is referring to my former department, which could no longer fund my Assoc. Prof. position due to UH budget cuts.


For Maui to become a "Silicon Valley", it needs its Stanford University --- and for that, it needs its Leland Stanford.  The word needs to go out to the world's billionaires wishing to leave a lasting legacy for humanity that they should build a first class research university on Maui.


Contrary to the opinion in the article, I don't believe Kahului offers any advantages as to location.  It is not really a "town" but is a collection of strip malls and suburb --- a little outpost of mainland sprawl --- whose car domination is quite hostile to anyone on foot.  Students or faculty on bikes would not want to be out in that environment.  Better to locate it in a place where a new-urbanist real town could develop around it, as Palo Alto did.

What Lee said ^

This is a great article, had no idea from the title it'd cover what it did...

First, a coworking space would be awesome.  James Welch, me and others were talking a little about it back in June/July, but I've been off-island longer than planned (coming home next weekend though!).  IMHO Maui probably needs two small co-working spaces one centrally located and one in in Kihei...  maybe even affiliated so memebers could use either space...  they don't need to be big or grand, in fact some co-working spaces evolved out of failed start-ups that had more space then they needed and renting co-working space was a useful way to keep talent close and make rent...  

Second, mostly personal opinion but Maui really does suffer some from lack of top level tech resources.  Servers aren't such a big deal (everyone I know is developing anything major on remote servers in the cloud anyway).  Responsive internet and abundant WiFi however certainly is a big deal but neither of those is very easy to solve without huge capital expenses.  

AFAIK all internet traffic, even local maui, still goes through Oahu.  I need to run some test to be sure that's still the case however.  It is at lot better though  than the days when all traffic went not just through Oahu but onto the mainland and then came back to Hawaii from the mainland.  It does mean however that we're always further away from anywhere on the internet than most places.  It's going to be a long long time before someone lays a cable across the Pacific direct to Maui however so not much can be done about that.  AFAIK there is still only one backbone provider to the mainland from Oahu and I lost track of what name it's techincally under now, used to be MCI Worldcom and UUNet, maybe now Verizon).  Maybe there is a second connection out to Australia now though, not really clear and it's a pain to find that info.  What can be done is making sure those connections are as robust as they can be.  


For Wifi, a little public municipal WiFi at all public facilities (buildings, parks, etc.) would be a start and would encourage private business to step up there deployment to compete.

   Maui lacks many things that silicon valley (and many other places that are trying to be The Next Silicon Valley) has in its favor.  Several world class universities, good access to international shipping (and easy cheap mainland shipping), and good broadband... heck I get maybe 1Mbps out here in Haiku on a DSL line... and good 'urban' centers with public transport etc.  Our population is very spread out, with 1+hr travel between some of the major 'population' centers (kihei - lahaina-wailuku-paia-upcountry (oh and a couple very hard to get to places like Hana).

 And we have lots of things here that hold us back... Our school system (hawaii wide) is rated pretty poorly - by kids, parents and various testing.  Large portions of our population do not have a Can Do, entrepreneurial cultural background.

  But we do have a great location, and a LOT of people who do want to DO SOMETHING about life/economy here.


I'm not really a big fan of major research universities and the academic preparation track that most colleges push, and push on the college bound.   We do NOT need more psych majors or lawyers or professors who have grad students teach while they play with pet projects or do contracting.  


Look at some of the new ways of education and manufacturing.... Distributed. Agile.  Combinations of technologies and design.  Look at how Khan Academy is changing education - teachers assign watching videos for homework instead of lecturing in class - and then work problems with kids in class.  Kids who are motivated and smart can excel - get ahead of regular curriculum and on to higher topics.

Look at the world of Physical Computing.  By far the largest number of computers sold, and perhaps programs written, are for embedded microcontrollers... with web interfaces now.  Building electronics that sense and interact with the world (robotics) is actually not all that hard.  Its easy to get kids fired up on the ideas and building things -- and then you can teach them the deeper skills of Comp Sci, Mech Engr, EE, etc.

And please, do NOT forget about ART and design.  

Not everyone is meant to be a programmer.  And far too many products developed by engineers are just sterile and boring.   Encourage ART with technology.  Teach Artists how to use EL wire, to make interactive sculptures... and then they will be ready to work with engineers (and biz people) to make the next generation of products.


How do we do this here? I'm not entirely sure, but I think we should have something like MIT's FabLab - with public access to desktop fabrication tech and training provided to use it.   We can tie in with the FabLab Network and share educational materials (and host their yearly confabs). 

I'm trying to do something like this on a smaller scale with Maui Makers (mentioned by Keith Powers in the article).

I'd love to get a mobile maker rig setup to take the fab tech out to our distributed population.


As for Broadband -- FabLab Kabul Afghanistan can do it and so can Maui.


I would not say that I have "distaste for the seemingly ineffectiveness of our local institutions", but rather, that they have their limits due to the limited pool of resources that exist locally.  It's a systemic issue that is not easily changed.  

I would certainly agree that there aren't people like Leland Stanford around any more (Google [beyond capitalism] and the first hit is my topical biography of Leland Stanford).  But the US alone has over 1000 billionaires.  If there is a one in a thousand chance a billionaire would want to build a university on Maui, then the odds are pretty good!

As far as bringing actual Stanford resources to Maui, that is not really the issue.  Stanford has a lot of great assets, but no subset of them is the key to its power --- it is Stanford as a community and an enterprise of learning and research.  It did not grow organically out of Palo Alto --- it came into being from a single vision, and 7 years after its conception, after 4 years of construction, it opened its doors to the first class of 555 students.  

As far as not having time to develop a new university --- I attended a 1996 conference put on by MEDB to foster Maui getting a university.  In these 15 years we have seen MCC add a number of buildings and become UHMC offering a narrow number of degrees.  But UHMC computer science professors have to teach 5 courses every semester, which leaves no time for research, which is the fountain from which the innovation flows.

A "Silicon Valley" requires a community of scholars and researchers, and that requires they have an economic base.  I have seen the pace of what Maui has been able to generate in 15 years with concerted efforts by MEDB, OTED, MRTC, etc.  I can see UHMC doubling its size by 2026.  But that will never bring about a "Silicon Valley Isle".

To bring about the vision in that article, the very fastest way I can imagine is for a visionary to marshall their resources to build a research university on Maui.  "Jobs University", "Winfrey University", "Soros University" all have good ring to my ear :)



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