June 20, 2017
Danielle McNamara

California state champs vie for national championship in Philly

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

Students from CSU Fresno’s MESA center grabbed both middle and high school titles at a statewide competition last month after beating thousands of other MESA students during preliminary and regional competitions.  They now are headed to the National Engineering Design Competition in Philadelphia this week, and hope to keep the winning streak going.

Student teams have to perform several tasks with the arm, give an oral presentation and submit a complete R&D report. The arm is powered by a programmed coding board. 


The Mendota Junior High Team is made up of 8th graders Yousef Ali, Isabela Hamasaki, Sergio Mejia and Samed Obaid. They are led by MESA advisors Dave Sackrison, Max McDougal and Carlos Tamayo. The Pacheco High Team is made up of 9th graders Ernesto Castro and Kevin Ramirez and are led by advisors Tim Burns and Cruz Flores. 

Both schools are served by the MESA center at the Fresno State Lyles College of Engineering.

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 and inspiring for MESA students as they all attend low-performing schools, come from low socio-economic background and are typically the first in their families to attend college.

Mendota Junior High is 98 percent Latino, 51 percent are English language learners and 99 percent of students receive free or reduced price meals. Pacheco High School is 83 percent Latino and 82 percent of students receive free or reduced price meals.

The championship will be held June 21-24 at Temple University in Philadelphia.