May 13, 2014
Danielle McNamara
(510) 987-0230


Press Release


Four Mendota Junior High eighth graders are now state champions in the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Statewide Prosthetic Arm Engineering Design Challenge.


After months of designing, creating and competing, they beat out hundreds of other students throughout California. Fifteen-year-old Mario Ruiz and 14-year-olds Mario Castillo, Daniela De La O and Jeremiah Robinson move on to the MESA National Engineering Design Competition June 19-22 at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.


Mendota students are served by the California State University Fresno Lyles College of Engineering MESA center. Mendota Junior High School’s population is 63 percent English language learners and 99 percent receive free or reduced lunch.


The competition requires a team of students to develop a prosthetic device to complete pre-defined tasks. The focus on bioengineering reflects MESA’s goal to involve students with the hottest science, engineering and technology areas. The project teaches students to understand design principles, implement problem-solving techniques and think like mechanical engineers.


The project is part of MESA Days, an annual showcase of students’ math and science know-how. Through MESA and MESA Day competitions, students can explore future careers in science, engineering and other technical fields.


MESA is one of the largest programs in California to support educationally disadvantaged students so they can graduate from college with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees. MESA provides academic support and enrichment to more than 18,000 K-12 students and more than 7,800 community college and 4-year college students each year. Most MESA students are economically disadvantaged, the first in their families to attend college and attend underperforming schools.


For more information about the Mendota students, contact Fresno MESA Director Beatrice Prieto


For more information about MESA, visit or on Twitter @MESASTEM.