California State University, Fresno’s Lyles College of Engineering encourages San Joaquin Valley 6th through 12th graders to pursue science and technology careers by offering MESA Saturday Academies with a variety of hands-on projects.

Approximately 600 students from 20 Valley schools participate in each of four academies each year, which include projects involving robotics, rockets, earthquake engineering, construction management, hydrogen fuel cell cars and hot air balloons. High school students also attend presentations on college admissions, while middle school students take part in leadership training.

The final MESA Saturday Academy of the 2009-10 academic year is Feb. 20 as part of the Lyles College’s annual National Engineers Week activities. Previous academies were held in October, November and December. All are funded largely by an Innovation Generation Grant from the Motorola Foundation, now in its third year.

MESA, shorthand for the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement program, designs academies to expose students to projects they may not see in their classrooms.

“Our major support from Motorola has allowed thousands of students to experience math, science and engineering in new and exciting ways,” said Louie Lopez, director of Fresno State MESA. The program also receives support from the Lyles College and from student organizations whose members volunteer as college mentors at the events.

“Since many MESA students are the first in their families to consider attending college, this relationship with the Lyles College of Engineering enhances the college-going culture for all involved,” Lopez said.

MESA is a nationwide program that motivates and prepares disadvantaged students, especially from underserved populations, with knowledge and skills to enhance their interest professions requiring degrees in engineering and other mathematics and science-based fields

Fresno State’s MESA, which has been serving students since 1980, is joining the statewide organization celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

For additional information on Fresno State MESA, contact Louie Lopez or Kristin McCoy at 559.278.2976 or or visit the Web site.

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