June 24, 2014
Danielle McNamara
 (510) 987-0230

Press Release


California MESA emerges victorious for both the middle school and high school teams in the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement National Engineering Design Competition.


The Stagg High School and Mendota Junior High School teams used science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills through months of designing, creating and testing a prosthetic arm on a $40 budget.


Each team beat out hundreds of other students throughout California during preliminary, regional and state competitions earlier this year. They competed against MESA teams from nine other states June 19-22at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.


Mendota students fifteen-year-old Mario Ruiz and 14-year-olds Mario Castillo, Daniela De La O and Jeremiah Robinson 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.


Stagg High School students seniors Dellanira Alcauter, Anthony Nichols and Brooklyn Omstead and junior Gabriel Zuniga are led by MESA teachers Andrew Walter and Kathy Sady. Stagg High is in the Stockton Unified School District and is served by the University of the Pacific School of Engineering and Computer Science MESA center. Seventy percent of Stagg students receive free or reduced lunch.


The competition requires teams to develop a prosthetic device within a budget 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. Students are judged in design efficiency, dexterity, object relocation, distance accuracy, technical display, technical paper and oral presentation.


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 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 Stagg students, contact University of the Pacific MESA Director Maria Garcia-Sheets at For more information about the Mendota students, contact Fresno MESA Director Beatrice Prieto at For more information about MESA, visit or on Twitter @MESASTEM.