Five Student Leaders Selected for MESA Conference

Pictured clockwise from top left are Leonardo Garcia, Interim Director of MESA Nicole Patterson, Fernando Suarez, MESA Undergraduate Programs Lead Marvin Maldonado, Katie Quach, Athena Niu and Rosaura Chepe-Chino.

Nov. 14, 2023 - Five engineering undergraduate students attended the invite-only MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement) 2023 Student Leadership Conference in San Diego. The student leaders –Rosaura Chepe-Chino and Fernando Suarez of civil engineering, Athena Niu and Katie Quach of biomedical engineering and Leonardo Garcia of computer engineering – participated in the three-day event in October.

The MESA Program has supported K-12 and college students from underserved and underrepresented communities working in STEM fields for over 50 years. This year, students chosen for the symposium came from 18 universities and over a dozen community colleges. Attendees engaged with a variety of industry professionals, participated in skill workshops and competed in a team challenge.

For the competition, each group was given two days to craft a design that addressed one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that they presented at the end of the event. The UCI students were split into different teams to connect with engineering and computer science students from a variety of schools, ethnicities and skill backgrounds.

“MESA helped me greatly during my high-school years, and it's amazing how much more involved MESA is at the collegiate level,” said Suarez, a freshman whose group designed an alarm that detects water, gas and other kinds of leaks. “I can't wait to see what MESA at UCI has in store for me these next four years.”

The conference is fully funded by donations from companies including Keysight, Edison International and Uber. Professionals from these companies and other organizations, such as the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board and NOAA, attended the conference and helped guide the workshops and projects.

– Lilith Christopher