From Oregon to California: 2024 Nationals Recap

On the morning of Monday, June 24th, the MESA team met up at the Portland airport, along with teachers and the student state champs from Alder Creek Middle School and Parkrose High School to travel to sunny San Diego, California for the National Engineering and Design Competition. 

On the first night, the group attended a welcome mixer, where team introduction videos made by Parkrose and Alder Creek students were played. The students showcased their creativity in these videos and reminded us all why we have an “A” in “STEAM.”. Check out the Parkrose and Alder Creek videos to get to know the students a bit better and to learn a bit more about the projects they took with them to the competition.

After the exciting opening day, the next morning the students attended the delegation breakfast, with featured keynote speaker Jennifer Salazar. Jennifer shared her incredibly inspiring and relatable story as a California MESA alumna and now Senior Process Engineer at MicroVention. During the poster symposium that afternoon, MESA students from around the country set up their trifolds, set out their devices and connected with the general public about what they had created and why. Visitors to the Alder Creek and Parkrose tables were impressed with the students’ abilities to engineer fully functioning prototypes using complex coding and microprocessors. 

The next day, all of the students had some free time to explore the city. Highlights included visiting Old Town San Diego and Mission Beach. It was the first time in California for most of the students so seeing the glistening southern California Pacific Ocean was very exciting!

On Wednesday it was time for the technical pitch competition. Students donned their business attire and made their way to a lecture hall at the San Diego State University campus. They listened to and cheered for the other state teams pitches until it was their time to hit the stage. Both teams blew the judges and audience members away with their presentations and prototype demos. 

For the final evening in San Diego, the competition organized a trip to the San Diego Zoo! Students got to see so many animals including grizzly bears, hippos, giraffes, elephants and so many more. They also learned all about the animal rescue and conservation efforts at the zoo, which happened to align perfectly with the Environmental Conservation theme students designed for this year. 

Finally, on Thursday it was time to pack up and check out of the hotel. Our students were able to make connections with other MESA students from all over the country and shared how this was an unforgettable experience. We are so proud of our young competitors and so grateful to the MESA staff members and teachers who traveled with the students to San Diego for this adventure. 

Happy Summer and we will see you in the Fall!