Student teams have again converged on Portland for the annual MESA USA National Engineering Design Competition.
Portland played host to the Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (that's the MESA in MESA USA) competition last year,too.
From today (June 20) through Sunday, 18 teams will draw on skills in science, technology, engineering and math (aka STEM) to design and build prosthetic arms aimed at helping low-income children in developing countries.
Those teams are comprised of about 72 students — finalists from a pool of 39,000 participants who competed in earlier MESA challenges.
The event is free and open to the public, in case you want to cheer on some STEM students. The best viewing time, organizers say, will be from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and the Saturday portion of the competition will be at Portland State University's Stott Center in downtown. (On Sunday, the event will move to the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel.)
MESA, through its competitions and other programs, aims to encourage underserved youth (such as girls and minorities) pursue math-based higher education and STEM careers.
Meanwhile, support for the competition comes from the Lemelson Foundation, Intel and PSU's Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science — all of which have Portland or Oregon ties.
And speaking of ties, Beaverton's Meadow Park Middle School, which competed last year, won this year's state-level MESA championship for Oregon and is expected to duke it out in the national contest this weekend.