(July 3, 2017) — Eighth graders Samed Obaid, Yousef Ali, Isabela Hamasaki and Sergio Mejia of Mendota Junior High School placed first at the MESA National Engineering Design Competition Prosthetic Arm Challenge. The students are part of the Lyles College of Engineering’s Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Schools Program at Fresno State.
Pacheco High School (Los Banos) ninth graders Ernesto Castro and Kevin Ramirez, also of the MESA Schools Program, placed second. The event was held in Philadelphia from June 20 to 24.
“The purpose of the prosthetic arm competition is to teach students about the need of prostheses in our country and at an affordable price,” said Beatrice Prieto, director of the Fresno State MESA Schools Program. “The students were given a maximum budget of $80 to build an arm. We are all so proud. They did a wonderful job.”
Prieto said the students started the project at the beginning of the school year and dedicated hours of work, including after school and on weekends. To help prepare for the competition, she said parents from Los Banos assisted the students in reviewing their technical papers and poster boards.
“Everyone got involved in the preparation. Their peers also listened and critiqued their speech,” Prieto said. “It was a team effort and we are thankful to advisers Dave Sackrison (Mendota Junior High) as well as Tim Burns and Cruz Flores (Pacheco High) for their guidance and inspiration.”
Students also had to complete additional tasks while using the arm, such as distance accuracy, object relocation and dexterity (high school only) as well as submit and research and development report.
“These competitions are important because they help prepare students with vital skills such as time management and team collaboration,” Prieto said. “It also gives them the opportunity to discover and learn about a variety of careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field.”
There are currently 1,400 MESA students from 29 schools throughout the Valley. The program was founded in 1970 at University of California, Berkeley and has served students in the San Joaquin Valley since 1980. MESA is funded by the University of California Office of the President and was developed to provide support to underserved populations and encourage students to pursue a career in STEM by attending a four-year-college.
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