News Releases
Portland Students to Compete in 16th Annual Oregon MESA Day Event
May 18, 2016

The Lemelson Foundation, Intel Sponsor Middle and High School Engineering and Science Competition

Portland, OR—May 18, 2016—More than 350 young inventors from five school districts in Portland Metro and Salem will show their mettle as prospective future engineers, inventors, and scientists during the Oregon MESA Day Middle and High School Engineering and Science competition.  The one-day event will take place at Portland State University’s Smith Memorial Ballroom on Friday, May 20 from 9:30am to 2:00 p.m.


More than 90 teams of middle and high school students will compete to address a global challenge: the need for a low-cost prosthetic device for youth in developing countries. Students have also been tasked with incorporating a microcontroller into their working prosthetic prototypes. 


Based in Portland State University’s Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, Oregon MESA serves twelve middle and high schools throughout the Portland Metro area, and four schools in the Salem-Keizer School District. MESA students meet weekly with teachers and mentors at school sites to design and build projects for the annual challenge.


Middle and high schools teams that win Oregon MESA Day will head off to compete at the MESA USA National Engineering Design Competition, held this year at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. MESA USA is a national partnership that serves over 45,000 students nationwide. 


Oregon MESA Day is generously supported by The Lemelson Foundation, Portland State University, Oregon Community Foundation, Reser Family Foundation, Daimler, and Intel. 


The Lemelson Foundation bolstered its support for the program last year by awarding a $706,000 grant to the Portland State University Foundation to support Oregon MESA’s efforts to expand the reach of its invention education programming. The Lemelson Foundation, a long-time partner of Oregon MESA, awarded the grant in recognition of MESA’s strong track record of success.


“Oregon MESA plays a crucial role in educating the next generation of inventors in our state,” said Rachel Jagoda Brunette, program officer at The Lemelson Foundation. “This great program gives students the opportunity to explore whether invention is their passion and to gain the creative confidence that comes with solving a problem through invention.” 


In 2013 only 39% of STEM degrees earned in Oregon were awarded to women, and only 6% were awarded to students of color, leaving these groups behind in STEM-based employment. Successful programs such as MESA’s are vital to overcoming this achievement gap. More than 50% of Oregon MESA students are girls and more than 45% are African American, Native American and Latino students. Oregon MESA delivers a more than 25-year track record of 98% high school graduation and 92% college continuation rates for participants. 


“We’re very grateful for the support and the thought leadership of the Lemelson Foundation,” said Tong Zhang, Executive Director of Oregon MESA. “It’s a partnership that has allowed MESA to expand our impact and provide meaningful invention and STEM education experiences to hundreds of underserved students in Oregon.”



What: Oregon MESA Day Middle and High School Engineering and Science Competition

When: Friday, May 20, 2016 from 9:30am – 2:00pm, with awards scheduled at 12:00pm

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


Media Contact:

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