Frequently Asked Questions about MESA
Below are some common questions about participating in MESA. If you have futher questions please contact our office.
What are the benefits of MESA membership?Click or enter to reveal information below
Students experience MESA as a school club, meeting weekly with other members to work on hands-on projects from making their own ice cream to building mouse-trap powered cars or bottle rockets. MESA members form teams to work together on more complex projects and then represent their school at competitions on local college campuses. Competitors build their confidence, teamwork skills and pride in their school while applying math, science and engineering together. Winners receive medals and earn trophies for their schools. Each year, one middle and one high school team will represent Arizona in the MESA USA National Engineering Design competition held in one of ten participating MESA states.
All students receive academic encouragement and support to prepare themselves for college and future careers from their MESA advisors, industry mentors and university personnel.
Participation in extracurricular activities is considered a plus for most college and scholarship applications. MESA offers students the opportunity to build this part of their college portfolios starting as early as 6th grade. In addition, The University of Arizona reserves a number of tuition awards specifically for MESA students.
How can I/my child participate in a MESA competition?Click or enter to reveal information below
What requirements must students meet to participate in MESA?Click or enter to reveal information below
Students who participate in MESA should have an interest in going to college. While no student from a Title I school registered with MESA will be excluded on the basis of ethnicity or socio-economic status, we encourage sponsors to make a special effort to recruit participants who meet at least one of the criteria below:
- Come from a low income household (based on MESA program guidelines)
- Self-identify with an ethnic minority group (i.e., Hispanic, African American, Native American, Asian American)
- Would be the first generation of their family to earn a four-year degree
MESA is an academic preparation program; therefore, student participants must express a commitment to their education and have an interest in attending college. The desire to be an engineer or scientist is not a requirement, but students are often surprised to find out that there is a science or engineering career that interests them.
Similar to coaches of sports or other extracurricular activities, MESA sponsors have the authority to set additional criteria for MESA participation consistent with the program’s mission. Acceptable criteria may include requirements for student behavior, academic achievement or consistent attendance at MESA meetings in order to compete in MESA on behalf of the school. Sponsors are encouraged to communicate any such criteria clearly in writing to participating students and their parents and to share their criteria with MESA staff so that we have complete information in the event of student/parent inquiry.
Do students need to be focused on math, engineering, and science as college majors and careers?Click or enter to reveal information below
MESA is a university outreach program. All four-year college degree programs require students to demonstrate competency in mathematics, so MESA activities and competitions can help any college-bound student. Therefore, students who meet the eligibility criteria, regardless of their academic interest, are encouraged to participate.
Why should schools participate in MESA?Click or enter to reveal information below
- Creating and supporting a group of students interested in college, math and science supports a healthy college-going culture in your school.
- Encouraging students to realize their full academic potential and to enroll in the challenging math and science courses required for University admissions should positively contribute to students’ ability to perform well on standardized tests used to measure school accountability for student learning.
- Local and national industries express the need for qualified engineers and scientists, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds. Careers in these areas represent real opportunities for students to realize their full potential, end the generational cycle of poverty and serve as role models in their communities.
Which schools can participate in MESA?Click or enter to reveal information below
MESA is designed to serve students in grades 6-12 who are historically underrepresented in higher education and STEM fields: low-income students, minority students and those students whose parents did not earn a bachelor’s degree. MESA registration is open to the Title I middle and high schools in Arizona, which serve the greatest proportion of the state’s low-income students, and to other schools that have a significant history with Arizona MESA. If interested in participating please contact our office.
How can a school register to participate in MESA?Click or enter to reveal information below
Registration as a MESA school requires a Memorandum of Understanding signed by a school administrator. Schools must appoint an adult sponsor who is interested in providing regular opportunities for students to engage in hands-on STEM activities. The advisor should complete the application site required by MESA center responsible for the geographic location of the school. Traditionally, the sponsor is a certified math or science teacher employed by the school site. If a certified teacher is not available, another interested school employee, parent or community volunteer could possibly serve as MESA advisor if the school principal and the MESA Center approve of the arrangement.
What are the responsibilities of the sponsor?Click or enter to reveal information below
Sponsors have a lot of flexibility as to how they run MESA at the school site, but we ask that those who volunteer for the position keep the following minimum expectations in mind:
- Engage students on a regular basis in hands-on STEM activities, college preparation activities, or preparation for MESA Engineering Design competitions. Guest speakers from technical industry or institutions of higher education may also be invited to participate. It is the responsibility of the advisor to plan and lead these activities and to solicit suggestions for activities from MESA staff when necessary. We suggest advisors meet with students at least one hour per week.
- Recruit students in support of MESA’s mission to serve students who are low-income, would be the first in their families to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, or who come from minority backgrounds. These are not designed to be criteria for exclusion, as MESA welcomes all interested students at designated MESA schools, but rather should be kept in mind as criteria for inclusion. We suggest that at least 75% of the students participating at a school should meet at least one of these criteria.
- Register students to participate in Arizona MESA engineering design competition and other events.
- Accompany students as the chaperone for MESA Day and other optional MESA events.
- Counsel students as to academic achievement that will help them progress toward admission to a four-year college or university. We recommend that participants be advised to maintain a minimum 2.5 academic GPA.
- Maintain open and professional communication with MESA staff, school administrators, students and parents of participating students.