Building makeshift prosthetic arms, dropping eggs from high places and constructing model bridges may sound like fun, but it’s serious stuff for the about 600 area middle and high school students who visited UC Riverside on Saturday, Feb. 16, for an opportunity to strut their mathematical and engineering skills.
It’s all part of the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Day preliminary competition. MESA is a national academic preparation program that for more than 40 years has served disadvantaged students in grades six through 12, inspiring them to attend college and pursue math, science or engineering degrees. UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering has housed the program for 14 years.
The top competitors from the Feb. 16 event will advance to regional competitions, which will be held at San Diego State on April 13 for high school students and at Imperial Valley College on April 20 for middle school students.
“This event is the culmination of months of work for these students. It is an opportunity for them to learn the problem-solving skills of engineers by applying science and math concepts with ingenuity and creativity,” said Carlos Gonzalez, director of the MESA schools program at UC Riverside.
“For many of them, it is their first visit to a major research university. Our hope is that this experience will inspire these students to reach beyond their known limits, toward success in whatever course of study they choose to pursue.”
The MESA program currently serves 24 schools in San Bernardino and Riverside counties through classroom curriculum support, academic guidance services and competitions, workshops and events for teachers, students and their families.