Logo: University of Southern California

High School Students Go Head to Head in Math and Science Contests at USC MESA Day

Hundreds of teenagers from all over greater Los Angeles came to USC for competitions aimed at applying academic learning to hands-on projects

April 19, 2011 —

More than 400 high school students converged on the USC campus on April 9, 2011, to engage in a fast-paced and exciting day of math and science competitions.

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USC's MESA team: The USC MESA team: Ben Louie, Larry Lim, and Darin Gra
It was the annual USC MESA day. MESA is Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement.  The students came from 34 high schools throughout greater Los Angeles and from MESA Centers at USC, CSULA, CSULB, and UCLA.

MESA Day is held in the spring of each year for middle school and high school students. These hands-on mathematics, science and engineering competitions are aligned to California State Content Standards. This year’s program featured 13 exciting competitions, including: mathematics, mousetrap-powered cars, biomedical engineering, speech, civil engineering, egg-drop, model airplanes and web-page design. Judges included USC Viterbi students and volunteers from Occidental Petroleum, Society of Petroleum Engineers, Raytheon, Northrop-Grumman, Xerox, Microsoft, and the Aerospace Corporation.

Students eagerly participated and were excited to apply their academic learning to hands-on math, science and engineering projects. Many appreciated the opportunity to visit and explore the USC Viterbi campus, and interact with students and faculty. Lunch was catered by the In-N-Out Burger truck, which served as an additional treat for the day,

A team from Alhambra High School (which is served by the USC MESA Center) was recognized with their grand prize in a statewide Microsoft web

MESA Group-small
The winning team from Alhambra High School-Anderson Lam, Willis Zhang, Kenson Lam and Omar Galicia- with Larry Lim, the director of USC MESA.
design competition held for MESA students last year. The MESA National Windmill Energy competition was won by a team from Long Beach Poly High School.

MESA is a program of the University of Southern California (under contract with the University of California) that serves educationally disadvantaged students. It provides a pipeline of academic services from elementary through university level to increase the number of students who graduate with degrees in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Seventy percent of MESA high school graduates statewide went directly to college after graduation compared to 48 percent of all California graduates. Sixty percent of MESA students go on to math, science or engineering majors.

The USC MESA program serves students with innovative academic, college and career counseling and hands-on science programs, which are opportunities to compete, show off and meet new friends.

“MESA Days are a critical element of the program that expose students early on to math and science in a fun way," said MESA executive director Oscar Porter, "While they are applying math, engineering and science skills, they begin to realize these subjects could become a college major or even a career if they keep working at it. By holding the competitions on campuses like here at USC, MESA exposes students to the college experience and helps to remove the mystery about what a university will be like.”

For more information, see the USC MESA website: http://viterbi.usc.edu/students/undergrad/ced/precollege/mesa/