May 8, 2012
Danielle McNamara
 (510) 987-0230

Press Release


A student team from Manual Arts High School placed 8th in an international robotics challenge.


The Zero Robotics Autonomous Capture Challenge is a programming tournament sponsored by NASA, MIT and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) . Teams must to develop an algorithm for a robotic pod that would autonomously identify and capture a satellite in space.


More than one hundred teams from countries around the world including Russian, South Korea and India competed. Robo-skunks is the only team from California to place in the top ten. Winners were announced May 1.


Led by MESA advisor John Santos, 12th graders Adedamola Tombrown, Korayma Arrevalo, 11th grader Eduardo Avila and 10th grader Ali Ibsin worked for five weeks on the project.


“Our students accomplished something some might say is impossible,” Santos said. “An inner-city school competed with some of the top aerospace engineering and computer science programs from throughout the world and finished in the top ten.”


The team was mentored by volunteers from Lockheed Martin, Northup Grumman and Raytheon and toured the satellite development facility at Boeing for inspiration.


MESA students at Manual Arts are served by the MESA center housed at University of Southern California. Thirty-two percent of Manual Arts students are English language learners and 77 percent receive free and reduced lunch.


MESA is an academic preparation program that serves more than 21,000 California pre-college, community college and university students who are educationally disadvantaged.


Seventy-four percent of MESA high school students go to college after graduation compared to 41 percent of all California students. Sixty percent of MESA high school graduates go on to college as math, engineering or science majors.


For more information about the Manual Arts students, contact USC MESA director, Larry Lim or 213-740-1999. For more information about MESA visit