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Costa Mesa Students Win State STEM Championship - Advance to National Competition
Posted 5/26/22

State Champions MESA engineering design competitionCosta Mesa High School (CMHS) students successfully defended their first place title in the National Engineering Design Competition (NEDC): Designing for Equity in Your Community. The competition was part of a series of regional Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) competitions hosted by Math Engineering Science Achievement (MESA). As part of the journey to win State, the team participated in multiple competitions where they won numerous awards. 

MESA is a college and career preparation organization that encourages student diversity and achievement in science, technology, engineering, and math. The competitions provide hands-on experience which help students in their pursuit of STEM fields in higher education. Students also have opportunities to obtain grants, receive technical resources, launch mentoring programs, and obtain scholarships. 

“The STEM program provides students an opportunity to apply the skills they have learned in classes during the school day to real world problems,” said Principal Jake Haley. 

“Success requires teamwork, collaboration, and maximizing individual team member’s skills,” he said. “With the support of their dedicated teacher coaches they are thriving, and I am thrilled that they won State for the second year in a row,” he said.

The elimination tournament began with a statewide preliminary competition, encompassing teams from more than 350 schools across California participated in the MESA and NEDC challenges. On their journey, Costa Mesa Middle and High School teams took several first place wins advancing them to the Southern Regional Competition where they took first place in addition to an invitation to the State Championship culminating in a first place win for the second year in a row.

MESA State Championship

On Saturday May 21, 2022 at the MESA State Championship, CMHS team members Sophia Catalia Orozco, Lucero Islas and Lena Nguyen won the National Engineering Design Competition (NEDC) for the second year in a row. They will now represent the State of California as the top high school team at the National competition in New Mexico this June.

This competition required the team to identify an individual or group experiencing inequity. The CMHS team submitted their project, TaskBug, a colorful and engaging prototype habit tracker to assist parents in monitoring student task completion. Recognizing that many students live in homes with two working parents, the purpose of the project was to enable parents to establish goals and priorities for their children while making it fun and engaging for children to let their parents know the status. 

Parents use the device to track student’s homework completion, chores, and the amount of time spent on activities such as use of digital devices or watching television. When a student updates his or her task completion, the parent receives a text message on their mobile device to inform them. 

“I am excited to continue on to the National competition,” said Sophia Catania Orozco. “All three rounds of competition provided our team with feedback that we can use to make significant improvements to our prototype project, TaskBug,” she said.

MESA Day Southern Regional Championship 

Mesa Southern Regional ChampionshipPrior to their win at the State Championship, CMHS students participated in multiple MESA Day Southern Regional Championship competitions, against 150 students from 20 schools throughout Southern California.

Southern Regional National Engineering Design Competition (NEDC): Designing for Equity in Your Community  - First place win
CMHS team members Sophia Catania Orozco, Lucero Islas, and Lena Nguyen placed first in numerous categories including design brief, poster symposium, prototype pitch, technical presentation, and interview and overall. 

The NEDC team spent countless hours preparing for the preliminary, southern regional, and State competitions. The win at southern regionals established them as one of the top three teams in the State of California.

Cargo Glider Competition - Multiple Wins
CMHS students designed and constructed a glider using the laser cutter in their Career and Technical Education class. The glider was required to carry a payload and when launched had to fly,  go over an obstacle, and land on a target. 

Two CMHS teams performed well in the competition with Chelsea Vilchis and Jada Lee achieving first place for distance from target (accuracy) and second place for innovative engineering design. Caidlyn Lowry and Kyra Kirsch earned third place for innovative engineering design.

“I’ve participated in every MESA competition since I was in seventh  grade,” said Caidlyn Lowry, junior at CMHS. “I learn something new and more challenging each year and look forward to next year’s competition and another victory for our team,” she said. 

MESA Machine Competition
CMHS students designed and constructed a complex machine that utilized four to eight simple machines using wind to propel a vehicle with the goal of stopping closest to the target. Kyle Huynh and German Leon earned first place in both innovative engineering design and device performance categories. 

Moon Base Competition
CMMS students designed and constructed an original structure using only recycled cardboard. Team members Emily Mendoza Ahuatzi and Kassandra Ramirez Garcilazo earned first place in impact to mass ratio and innovative engineering design. 

CMMS students participated in this timed virtual competition to debug a program. Team members Vincent Nguyen and Diego Bello Herrera earned second place.

Math Escape Challenge
In this virtual competition, students were asked to solve real world challenges using mathematical skills and techniques. Gareth Overby, Darwin Palma Ruelas, and Gavin Morwood achieved third place. 

For more than a decade Costa Mesa students have participated in the MESA Southern Regional Championship competition and the second year in a row that they won the State level competition.