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eCurrents - Designing and Building the Future!

A publication of the Lyles College of Engineering at California State University, Fresno

Community Success — MESA Saturday Academies: Engaging the Youth of Our Community

Throughout Fall 2009 and Spring 2010, the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Schools Program—in partnership with the Lyles College of Engineering (LCOE) and the Motorola Foundation— hosted four Saturday Academies for its students on the Fresno State campus. The approximately 500 6th-12th graders who attended each Academy came from twenty different San Joaquin Valley schools and represented towns such as Fresno, Los Banos, Delano, Porterville, Mendota, Firebaugh, Orange Cove, Reedley, Sanger, Dinuba, and Kingsburg. The Academies are designed to introduce students to projects that they may not see in their regular classrooms and to help them get excited about the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. In addition to the STEM activities, students had the opportunity to eat in the University Student Union (a highlight for many!), and to explore the Fresno State campus.

This year’s Academy participants tackled a number of hands-on science and engineering activities—including robotics, model rockets, earthquake engineering, hot air balloons, wind turbines, and construction management. Student volunteers from the LCOE served as mentors at the Academies. Thanks to a collaboration with the Hewlett Packard Foundation and Dr. Rahul Rai, many of the high school students who attended took part in an interactive session on the engineering design process. This session mimicked a college class, giving the MESA students a sneak preview of what it is like to be an engineering student at Fresno State. All of the students who attended gave rave reviews about their experience, and many of them looked forward to attending future Saturday Academies.

Fresno State’s MESA schools program has been serving students in the Central San Joaquin Valley since 1980. Since its founding, MESA has encouraged students—especially those from underserved populations—to learn about math, engineering, and science in new and exciting ways. Furthermore, MESA has a tradition of preparing students to go to four-year colleges and universities. To learn more about MESA, visit their website at

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