News Ticker

FEATURED STEM WEEK EVENT: Students Showcase Inventions That Solve Real-World Problems at Oregon MESA Day 2017

Hands-on engineering experience increases

math and science scores for under-represented students


Portland, OR — May 16, 2017 — Today more than 350 students will be joined by teachers, mentors and volunteers for a day of fun, competition, and learning at MESA Day 2017. MESA Day is Oregon’s state qualifying event for the MESA National Engineering Design Challenge. For the first time, this year’s event will feature a student conference where exhibitors from local industry, higher education and community organizations will showcase educational and career opportunities in invention, entrepreneurship, and STEM fields.  The theme of this year’s conference, sponsored by Portland State University and The Lemelson Foundation, is Great Inventors, Great Ideas.


“Oregon MESA gives opportunity to students who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in science, engineering, or invention to be engaged in hands-on, real-world projects,” said Tong Zhang, Executive Director of Oregon MESA. “We’re excited to have organizations such as Lightspeed Technologies, Daimler, and Intel help kids understand how invention and STEM education can lead to interesting academic and career opportunities in the future.”


The 2017 competition will be the fourth and final year of the Prosthetic Arm Challenge. Middle and high school students create a low-cost prosthetic device with integrated computer science components. A new 2018 challenge will be unveiled at this year’s MESA Day event.


The top middle and high school teams for this year’s MESA Day competition will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the MESA USA National Engineering Design Competition, held this year at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


“MESA Day gives students a great opportunity to demonstrate how Invention Education fosters real-world problem solving and maximizes the value of STEM learning,” notes Rachel J. Brunette, program officer at The Lemelson Foundation.


In addition to the design and invention showcase, the first-time conference will highlight and engage students in college and career opportunities in the fields of Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics (STEM). Exhibitors such as Lumencor, Digimarc, and Chicktech will help broaden student horizons on opportunities within the STEM fields.


Oregon MESA Day is one of the events being highlighted in conjunction with STEM Week Oregon. STEM Week is supported by Oregon’s eleven STEM Hubs, funded in part by the Oregon Department of Education, to build connections in a geographic region so that learners can connect to STEM experiences early and often, igniting students’ passions and interest in STEM.



Improved Grades in Math & Science

Based at Portland State University’s Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science for almost 30 years, Oregon MESA currently serves 12 middle and high schools in seven Portland Metro area school districts, and six schools in the Salem-Keizer School District. The purpose of MESA is to engage underrepresented students in STEM, providing them with the access, opportunities, and knowledge to further their education and become leaders for the future.


A 2016 pilot study by education research evaluators at Education Northwest found that students enrolled in MESA’s Salem expansion consistently raised their math and science grades above the district average, after starting out behind. They also outperformed a comparable group of students who were not in MESA across almost all demographic groups. Low-income and minority students in the study demonstrated the largest growth in math and science grades.


Terrisa Gardner from Lightspeed has volunteered for MESA for four years. “Every year, I learn more and more from the kids: how to keep fighting and trying your best in the face of adversity.”



What: Oregon MESA Regional Engineering Design Competition & Invention Conference

When: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 from 9:00am – 5:00pm, with awards scheduled at 3:00pm

Portland State University’s Smith Memorial Ballroom, SMSU 324, 1825 SW Broadway, Portland, OR


About Oregon MESA

Oregon MESA’s mission is to provide students underrepresented in the fields of mathematics, engineering, science and technology with the skills, knowledge, and opportunities to develop their talents, explore technology-based careers, enter college, and compete successfully in the workforce. Oregon MESA is supported by the state legislature, Portland State University, foundations, and corporations. For more information about Oregon MESA, call (503) 725-4665, or visit the Oregon MESA web site. at


About The Lemelson Foundation

Based in Portland, The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives. Inspired by the belief that invention can solve many of the biggest economic and social challenges of our time, the Foundation helps the next generation of inventors and invention-based businesses to flourish. The Lemelson Foundation was established in the early 1990s by prolific inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy. To date the Foundation has made grants totaling more than $200 million in support of its mission. For more information, visit



Media Contact:

Tong Zhang, Oregon MESA. 503-725-4268.

Pam Kahl, The Lemelson Foundation.  503-227-2334.

Share This Post

About admin (12 Articles)
Melissa Dubois is the South Metro-Salem Hub STEM Director. The South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership (SMSP) is a collaboration of school districts, community colleges, universities, out-of-school programs and business and community partners that is focused on increasing student access and success in STEM fields.