PSU’s Oregon MESA program receives $938,000 grant to expand invention education programs for underserved students
Author: Kurt Bedell, PSU Media and Public Relations
Posted: November 26, 2018

Portland State’s Oregon MESA program announced today that it has been awarded a $938,000 grant from The Lemelson Foundation to expand the number of middle and high school students served by its invention education programs.  Oregon MESA uses both after-school and in-school programs to engage students of color and low-income students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Focused on preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers among underrepresented student populations, Oregon MESA provides a mix of pre-college academic, hands-on experience and mentoring opportunities to K-12 students. Its programs use real-world challenges to give students a taste of what it takes to be an inventor — from concept through testing to final product.

“We believe invention is key to the future we all want, including a strong and vibrant economy,” said Carol Dahl, executive director at The Lemelson Foundation. “Oregon MESA is a key partner in our work to cultivate a pathway for all students in Oregon to experience invention and contribute to that future.  The Oregon MESA program plays an important role creating access to hands-on inventing for underserved students throughout the state. We know the program changes the ways students imagine their futures and we are proud to be a part of expanding MESA’s reach.”

Tong Zhang, executive director of Oregon MESA, said the program has partnered with The Lemelson Foundation for over 10 years to develop innovative programming and expand access to invention education for thousands of underserved students.

“With this new grant, we’ll be able to expand our capacity to serve more than 40 middle and high schools with low-income student populations of 50 percent or greater,” Zhang said.

Oregon MESA brings invention education to students who otherwise might not be attracted to STEM classes and careers. In the 2017-18 school year, 88 percent of MESA students were either an underrepresented minority, low-income student, female or a first-generation student to attend college. About 59 percent of these students were the first ones in their family to attend college.

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