Bharath Kadaba was twenty-four years old when he began doctoral studies at UH Mānoa’s College of Engineering. “It was my first time living outside my home in Bangalore, India,” he says. “The university offered a vast array of learning opportunities, but what truly stood out was the diversity of its community. The campus, filled with faculty, students, and East-West Center residents, represented backgrounds from all over the world. Honolulu itself was a vibrant mix of cultures, religions, races, and ethnicities, all coexisting mostly in harmony.”
Kadaba is an angel investor, startup advisor, and former Chief Innovation Officer with Intuit. He also remembers his days in Mānoa as the beginnings of his family. He says, “My wife and I quickly learned to appreciate and embrace the best of what Hawaiʻi has to offer, moving well beyond the traditions we grew up with. This experience, this broadening of horizons, is our lasting memory of Hawaiʻi. We’ve tried to instill in our children the values and lessons we gained there, raising them as true global citizens.”
To commemorate this important time in his life, and to boost young people’s interest in STEM subjects and engineering at UH Mānoa, Kadaba donated support to the college’s EngineeringHI program. Launched with funds from the Harold K. L. Castle Foundation, EngineeringHI connects O‘ahu public high school students with Mānoa engineering students. The high-schoolers receive academic help and personal mentoring, while the undergrads remain connected to their communities, developing skills in leadership and communication.
Kadaba’s funding provides materials for enrichment activities, such as hands-on STEM learning kits and fall break engineering camp supplies. It also covers mentors’ supply needs and may support special events at the college, such as the Women in Engineering Talk Story Pizza Lunch.
Brennon Morioka, Dean of the College of Engineering, says, “EngineeringHI is a great way for our own students to learn and understand their responsibility as engineers and as leaders, part of a greater community in Hawaiʻi. Dr. Kadaba’s support will help us expand our reach and take this ambitious vision to its next level.”
Kadaba is excited about the possibilities. “This program gives undergraduate mentors an opportunity to give back early in their careers,” he says. “I hope this support helps UH reach even more schools in Hawaiʻi, serving as a role model for universities everywhere.”