From Oregon to New Mexico: Nationals Week Recap!

Every year, the first place middle and high school teams from Oregon MESA compete at the MESA USA National Engineering and Design Competition (NEDC) alongside other state champions from across the country. This year, New Mexico MESA hosted the national competition in Albuquerque. The four-day long event was an extraordinary experience for the students, teachers and staff who had the opportunity to attend, as well as an incredible culmination for some graduating seniors who have participated in MESA for as many as seven years consecutively! This was the first in-person national MESA convening since 2019. During the pandemic, MESA USA managed to create meaningful and engaging virtual experiences for all participants, but nothing could beat an in-person gathering in a city most attendees had never had the opportunity to visit. 

Students from Alder Creek Middle School (Milwaukie Oregon) and Parkrose High School (Portland, Oregon) headed to Albuquerque on June 25th. It was the first time on a plane for some of these talented inventors, so the experience was already an adventure! After getting settled in Albuquerque, the student teams got right to work, fine tuning their inventions, practicing their pitches, and studying for their technical interviews. 

It wasn’t all work though, plenty of fun was sprinkled in! Thanks to the incredibly thoughtful planning team at New Mexico MESA, attendees were treated to authentic local cuisine and activities. All of the food, snacks and beverages throughout the experience illustrated the diverse tapestry of New Mexico’s population. From a memorable private balloon glow, to freshly made fry bread from an indigenous baker, as well as an all access pass at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and a night of immersive gaming fun at Electric Playhouse, the experience was unforgettable.

During the competition, Alder Creek Middle School students showcased their impressive Sound Level Monitor. The innovative device records noise levels of cars on roads without sidewalks in Milwaukie, Oregon. It provides instrumental data to determine traffic levels on streets that do not have sidewalks and may be unsafe for pedestrians and those with mobility issues. The city can then use the data collected to decide which roads to prioritize when building sidewalks. Parkrose High School students brought The Climate Mitigator. This low-cost portable device dries wet clothes during cold and wet winter months and provides cooling in extreme heat. Their device addresses the very real issue of hypothermia, especially for unhoused individuals, due to wearing wet clothes for a prolonged time or overheating during the ever rising temperatures the summers have been bringing to Portland. 

Joining these extraordinary students were Jess Augden (Ms. Jess), MESA Advisor at Alder Creek Middle School, and Kerryn Henderson (Ms. Henderson), MESA Advisor at Parkrose High School. Both advisors have been with MESA for many years and have made a tangible difference for our students. We are so grateful for their dedication, and excited to cheer on Ms. Henderson as she embarks on a new adventure after 10+ years with us. 

While winning state and getting to the nationals level is plenty for these student teams to be proud of, Parkrose also placed third in the “Design Brief” category during the competition. Please join us in celebrating this monumental accomplishment on the part of Alder Creek and Parkrose students. And as for the MESA staff team who had the privilege of attending, we can’t wait for next year! 

To see videos from the competition and learn more about the teams competing at Nationals, check out the MESA USA Youtube channel and the MESA USA website.