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MESA Fuels Tech Talent

October 5, 2017 | Danielle McNamara

Solving the diversity problem in the tech world is a complicated problem.  Many tech companies have committed to improving their hiring practices but there’s still much progress to be made.  In fact, most companies have yet to move the needle by any meaningful degree.


Next month, more than 200 diverse and driven undergrads descend on downtown Los Angeles in a step towards becoming the diverse leaders of tomorrow’s tech and engineering workforce.


MESA’s Student Leadership Conference brings together hand-picked engineering and computer science students with industry professionals to develop the next generation of STEM leaders.  Held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel Oct. 27-28, this year’s conference theme is Illuminate. Motivate. Launch.  


Both students and companies leave as winners: students network and gain the soft skills needed to be well-rounded employees; companies gain access to talented candidates for internships and employment.


Companies recognize the importance of engaging with and supporting our students — so much so they fully fund the conference with donations.  These enlightened corporate partners understand these are not simply underserved and underrepresented students, they are an underutilized pool of talent that has been long overlooked.  Companies simply cannot afford to ignore this talent pool.


This year’s partners and sponsors include: Applied Materials, Cisco, CHC Consulting, Disney, Southern California Gas Company, San Diego Gas and Electric, PG&E and Edison International. Also participating will be companies such as AT&T, Blast Motion, Northrup Grumman, Jet Propulsion Labs, Boeing, and Oracle.


Unlike job fairs or speaker-only conferences, our students get the unique opportunity to interact one-on-one and in small groups with company executives, engineers and recruiters. Many leave the conference with internship offers that lead to full time employment.


That’s a big step in the right direction to diversifying tech and strengthening the state’s economy. Here’s to the future of STEM success in California.


Oracle Summer Programming Camps Were A Hit

September 15, 2017 | Loren Crippin

Thanks to funding from Oracle, MESA recently concluded 6 JAVA summer programming camps for middle and high school students throughout California.

Over 250 MESA students participated in the summer camps where they received hands-on experience about the various ways computer science can be applied, from building websites, to coding applications, to creating video games, to writing code that interacts with Arduino devices.

Teachers told us that there were floored by the enthusiasm they saw in their students as they made their way through the programming camps and slowly saw their code come to life. They were especially surprised as how eager students were to help each other get through the material, often asking for extra take-home work and volunteering to teach other students who were struggling.

Students attending summer coding camps at the UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara MESA centers also got the opportunity to spend the day touring a college campus and experience firsthand the educational path required to become a computer scientist. Students got to speak with undergraduates about their path to college, visit dorms, and participate in STEM and college readiness activities.

These summer programming camps build on years of support and collaboration between MESA and the tech giant. Oracle Academy has also supported Java trainings for teachers, summer coding camps for MESA students and Alice and Greenfoot coding competitions.

Follow up programming academies are planned at each of the locations throughout the fall targeting additional middle and high school students, as well as workshops for parents and teachers. These academies will focus on linking skills gained during JAVA, Alice, and Greenfoot trainings to the MESA Virtual Competition in November 2017, the MESA Robotics Invitational in November 2017, and the MESA Hack held during the “Hour of Code” in December 2017. 


Linking MESA from 6th grade through bachelor’s

July 20, 2017 | Danielle McNamara

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”

– Helen Keller


Teamwork and collaboration are critical in all facets of life. In MESA, a connection between segments strengthens the continuum for students.


Building a strong link between regional pre-college, community college and university level MESA programs makes for a richer experience for students. Middle school and high school students can see the MESA program first hand at the university or community college level; community college students participate in research opportunities through the university MESA campuses. So MESA centers collaborate with their neighbor centers to form regional alliances.


One of the first successful MESA alliances was born in San Diego. The San Diego MESA Alliance began in 2000 and is made up of the Imperial Valley and San Diego State University pre-college programs, the community college programs at San Diego City College and Southwestern College, and the undergraduate program at San Diego State University. The alliance combines its resources and relationships by employing a joint industry advisory board, applying for grants together and holding joint events.


Alliances strive to enhance the pipeline of MESA programs in a particular region. The alliance goals are to establish best practices, strategic partnerships, effective coordination of services, and development of core curriculum for MESA programs.


Recently, the East Bay MESA Alliance coalesced to strengthen the Bay Area pipeline. The alliance is made up of the pre-college program at California State East Bay and the community college programs at Chabot, Diablo Valley and Los Medanos Colleges.


The alliance debuted with “Exploring Your Future Day” at the Chabot Space and Science Center, bringing together community college students, high school students and parents for a day of workshops on financial aid, university transfer and hands-on science demonstrations.


MESA programs in other parts of the state also have reaped the benefits of close collaboration including the Capitol Corridor Alliance in the Sacramento area, the Santa Barbara area alliance as well as the partnership between East Los Angeles College and the pre-college and university programs at CSU Los Angeles.


Through these close, regional relationships, MESA can provide students with a clear path when transitioning through their educational journeys.


“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Fresno National Champs

June 23, 2017 | Danielle McNamara

The Mendota Junior High School team is national champions of the MESA Engineering Design Competition!

8th graders Yousef Ali, Isabela Hamasaki, Sergio Mejia and Samed Obaid made the best robotic prosthetic arm in the nation. They claimed those top bragging rights (and a huge trophy) yesterday at competition held at Temple University in Philly. The Mendota team is led by MESA advisors Dave Sackrison, Max McDougal and Carlos Tamayo.

California MESA teams showed up in force, also claiming second place overall for the high school group. Pacheco High Team is made up of 9th graders Ernesto Castro and Kevin Ramirez and are led by advisors Tim Burns and Cruz Flores. 

All teams had to perform several tasks with the arm, which is powered by a programmed coding board, as well as give an oral presentation and submit a complete R&D report. Both schools are served by the MESA center at the Fresno State Lyles College of Engineering.

Mendota is a small agricultural town in the California Central Valley and 97 percent of the population are Latino. The median household income is $25,800 and 62 percent of residents work in agriculture. 

Our students have proven that with drive, vision and support anything is possible. The teams mothers sold tamales and held other fundraisers to raise money for the trip to nationals. 

Congrats to our national champions!