Samueli School-affiliated MESA Students Win National Contest
June 22, 2015 -- Two recent high school graduates, longtime participants in the UC Irvine-supported Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement program, won the MESA National Engineering Design Competition last weekend in Ogden, Utah.
Azucena Castro and Jennifer Barrientos, who graduated this month from Manuel Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif., won the Prosthetic Arm Challenge after sweeping preliminary, regional and state competitions. Castro and Barrientos, who have participated in the program since elementary school, represented California against nine other states in the finals. The team had to build a prosthetic arm for less than $40, which was rated in three categories: distance accuracy, object relocation and dexterity. In addition to device performance, the young women were judged on their technical paper, an academic poster and an oral presentation.
MESA is one of the largest programs in California to support and guide educationally disadvantaged students in low-performing schools toward college graduation with science, technology, engineering and math degrees. The organization provides academic support and enrichment to more than 18,000 K-12 students and more than 7,800 community college and four-year college students each year.
There are 63 MESA centers statewide, including five at UC campuses. Dominguez High School MESA students are served by the center housed at UCI’s Samueli School of Engineering. Castro and Barrientos’ victory marks the first time a Compton Unified School District high school has won the national championship, and it is the fifth national title for the UCI MESA program over the past 10 years.
Barrientos will enter UCI this fall as a biomedical engineering student, while Castro will study computer science at UC Berkeley.