MESA Day 2023: A Brighter STEM Future in Action

On May 19th we hosted MESA Day 2023 on the Portland State University campus.  The event was an extraordinary display of our students’ talent, passion, and joy. From the riveting competitions, to the student invention showcase around the theme of Designing for Environmental Justice, to the campus tours and the college & career fair in the afternoon, MESA Day 2023 was a celebration of ingenuity and a reminder of the bright STEM future our students are building. Take a look at our exciting MESA Day 2023 photo gallery, keep on reading to learn more about our students’ experience, and don’t forget to check out this blog post to meet the two incredible teams who qualified to compete with their inventions in the MESA USA National Engineering and Design Competition, hosted in New Mexico in June 2023.

MESA Day 2023 Gallery

Invention Showcase and Student Competition

We kicked off the day in the Viking Pavilion with the student invention showcase and the competitions! Students set up their display boards and their inventions, centered around the theme of Designing for Environmental Justice. Check out pictures of the inventions and the teams in our MESA Day 2023 photo gallery and marvel at our talented young inventors!

After the showcase, it was time for competitions. After working for weeks with their advisors, students got to test another one of their inventions this year, focused on the Species Sort Spring Challenge. Teams brought their devices designed to sort endangered species into different categories while keeping both the user and the animals safe during the sorting process. Additionally, students showcased their skills across a dynamic line-up of on-site challenges, in partnership with dedicated community partners. In the Shrimp Fishing challenge, hosted by OMSI, students learned about Oregon’s first-ever sustainable shrimp fishery, previewed a new OMSI exhibit, and created a device that caught as many shrimp as possible while avoiding catching any fish. Students constructed their own robotic race car, thanks to the Agile & Adaptive Robotics Lab, learned about how dance and science are linked with Dance United and local legend DJ Prashant, and participated in Oregon MESA’s very own ‘Drop it like it’s… Delicate?’ Drop Challenge, ‘I Can’t Believe this Cantilever!’ Spaghetti Cantilever Challenge, and the ‘Make it work: Lifeboat Edition’ Float Challenge. 


Awards Ceremony: Meet our Winners

After lunch, students enjoyed the sun and walked through the gorgeous Park Blocks over to Smith Memorial Student Union for the Awards Ceremony. With over 30 awards given to students, here are all of our first place winners for MESA Day 2023:

Middle School Student of the Year – Alan from Alder Creek Middle School
High School Student of the Year – Luis from McKay High School
MESA Spirit Award – Alexa from Connected Lane County 
OMSI Shrimp Fishing Challenge Middle School – Jaiden and Kyle from Waldo Middle School
OMSI Shrimp Fishing Challenge High School –  The Visionaries from Parkrose High School
Race Car Challenge Middle School – Team Wheelee Bot 1000 from Roseway Heights
Race Car Challenge High School – Team 2H2 from Early College High School
Spaghetti Cantilever Challenge Middle School – Isla, Ellianna, and Emilia from Alder Creek Middle School
Spaghetti Cantilever Challenge High School  – Team Fire (Tristan, Donovan, and Aden) from Liberty High School
Species Sort Spring Challenge Middle School  – Team Taco Lovers (Hillary, Valeria, and Joaquin) from Parkrose Middle School
Species Sort Spring Challenge High School  – Team Parkrose High School (Zayne, Kengi, Eddie, Bryant) from Parkrose High School
Designing for Environmental Justice Challenge State Competition Middle School – Team Table Cubed (Lucy, Lily, and Lucy) from Alder Creek Middle School 
Designing for Environmental Justice Challenge State Competition High School – The Visionaries team (Coral, Essay, Tyler, and Madeline) from Parkrose High School 

Read this blog post to meet the winners of  the State Competition who will be traveling to MESA USA National Engineering and Design Competition, hosted in New Mexico in June 2023. 


College & Career Fair and Senior Party 

After celebrating their hard work and talent at the Awards Ceremony, students alternated between PSU campus tours and our College & Career Fair. Over 30 companies and colleges joined us in the SMSU Ballroom to meet our students, create lasting connections, and show them the many amazing pathways into STEM. 

We also hosted a special party for our graduating seniors. During the event students got to enjoy food and beverages, pose for a free professional headshot session donated by our amazing photographer Kim Nguyen, listened to a college presentation, and learned how to join our ever-growing MESA alumni network. 


Thank You

The event was a success and it wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless work of our volunteers, who showed up ready to make a difference for our students. Over 125 volunteers joined us at PSU and ensured our students engaged in the event safely and successfully. From providing feedback on their inventions, to taking pictures, to helping with clean-up, our volunteers shined and we are incredibly grateful for all of their support. 

We also want to extend a special thank you to our sponsors. Thank you to our Premier Sponsor, the Lemelson Foundation who has been making a lasting difference on invention education for years, cultivating the next generation of impact inventors, and strengthening the supporting systems that allow invention-based businesses to thrive. We are so grateful to the Tygh Valley Group, our Innovation Pathway Sponsor, who has been a dedicated and consistent MESA champion through the years. Thank you to our Inspiration Sponsors: Digimarc, Horan MediaTech, Intel, PGE, Vernier Science Education, and VintageTEK museum. And finally thank you to our Ideation Sponsors: A&R Solar, Bonneville Power Administration, Evergreen Consulting Group, PDXWIT, and SHPE Oregon Professionals.