Public Affairs

Producing STEM Professionals through MESA

September 13, 2012
By Stephanie Thara


The CSU is committed to helping California fill the urgent need for qualified technical professionals in the science, mathematics and engineering fields. Working with academic development programs such as Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA), the CSU is able to successfully support students by providing hands-on education.

MESA partners with the CSU, California Community Colleges, University of California and K-12 institutions to serve approximately 22,000 educationally disadvantaged students. MESA features programs that support, motivate and prepare students for success in engineering and other math-based scientific fields of study based on their grade level. Additionally, MESA hosted its first virtual conference this summer, which provided MESA advisors—including CSU educators working in MESA programs—new ways to connect math and science theory to hands-on practices using technological and digital learning.

Of the 19 pre-college MESA centers throughout California, seven are housed on CSU campuses including Chico, East Bay, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San José. The program helps pre-college students prepare for college by expanding their math and science knowledge. Nine CSU campuses host the MESA undergraduate level engineering programs that establish a peer community for students and offers academic and career advice for freshmen and transfer students.

Most MESA students are the first in their families to attend college and most are low-income and attend (or have attended) low-performing school with few resources. Seventy-four percent of MESA high school graduates statewide go directly to college with 60 percent majoring in the STEM fields. Among these graduates, CSU students have persevered including: 

  • Tammy Lee has been involved in MESA since seventh grade when she attended the Fresno State center. She is still a part of MESA today as a mechanical engineering major at Fresno State.

  • Willie Harris has been involved in MESA since the third grade and is still a part of the program now as an electrical engineering major at Cal State L.A.

  • Aaron Sheppard was involved at MESA in the Sacramento State MESA center while in high school and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He’s now an engineer at AT&T where he has worked for 13 years.
  • MESA helped Cinthia Hidalgo while she attended Chico State and is now an engineer for the U.S. Forest Service.