May 11, 2016
Danielle McNamara


UC Irvine hosts robotic prosthetic arm championship this weekend

Winners head to nationals next month in Utah


California’s best and brightest future engineers will compete for top bragging rights and the title of state champs for creating the best code-powered prosthetic arm. 


The top four middle school and top four high school teams have already beaten thousands of other MESA students out during preliminary and regional competitions. 


This competition bridges classroom learning with real world application and encourages students to think beyond what they learn in physics, calculus or geometry. These experiences are particularly poignant for MESA students are they all attend low-performing schools, come from low socio-economic background and are typically the first in their families to attend college.


UC Irvine will not only host this weekend’s event, but two teams competing are from the UCI center. Student teams have to perform several tasks with the arm, give an oral presentation and submit a complete R&D report during the day-long event. 


Judges for the contest are MESA alumni from Compton and Imperial Valley who are now professional civil, manufacturing and software engineers.


Middle school teams:

  • CSU Fresno center, Los Banos Junior High School
    • Erick Lara, Carol Garcia (7th graders), Daniel Baerwaldt, Ernesto Castro (8th graders)
  • CSU Long Beach center, Hudson Middle School
    • Ab Tudayan (6th grader), Marygrace Gliane, Giannka Picache, Julienne Quides (7th graders)
  • San Jose State center, Joseph George Middle School
    • Joshua Caslib, Jonathan Ergino, Hannah Le, Erika Marquez (7th graders)
  • UC Irvine center, Fleming Middle School
    • Diego Castillo (7th grader), Priya Bhavsar, Margarete Furlanetto, Shelby Respicio-Evans (8th graders)


High school teams:

  • UC Irvine center, Costa Mesa High School
    • Sarah Catania, Nancy Le  (11th graders), Sylvia Catania, Keiser Ruiz (12th graders)
  • UC Los Angeles center, Los Angeles High School
    • Andrew Auh, Elisah Mendoza (11th graders), Willie Contreras, Javier Martinez  (12th graders)
  • UC Santa Barbara center, Rio Mesa High School
    • Angela Calderon, Ryan Espinosa, Luis Perez, James Patrick Ventura (12th graders)
  • University of the Pacific center, A.A. Stagg High School
    • Kevin Phan, Roberto Torres, De’Lilah Vega (10th graders), Samuel Cornelison (11th grader)


The winning middle and high school teams will move on to the national championship June 22-25 in Ogden, Utah. 


MESA is an award-winning academic enrichment program that provides educationally disadvantaged students with the tools to earn bachelor’s degrees in math-based fields. With tutoring, mentoring, study sessions, transfer counseling and study centers, MESA provides an environment that allows students to succeed and navigate the transfer system more easily.


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