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CSUF MESA Team Places Third in National Competition
Future Engineers Are Costa Mesa High School Grads

June 28, 2007 :: No. 242

Cal State Fullerton’s MESA team returned home this week with the third-place trophy in the 2007 MESA USA National Engineering Design Competition in Maryland.

The future engineering students from Costa Mesa High School competed against teams from eight states in the trebuchet event. A trebuchet is a type of catapult with a sling on the end.

“The Costa Mesa High School MESA team stepped up to the plate. I am enormously proud of our team. They did all that was asked of them — and more,” said Steve Nelson, the team’s high school adviser. “I can only hope that they return to mentor younger MESA team members in the future.”

The Costa Mesa students who competed on the MESA team (Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement) are Juan Dominguez, Dorian Flores, Richard Kyo and Ted Lee. Senior Peter Pham also attended the competition as the team’s manager. They all graduated from high school June 21 then boarded a flight that evening to Maryland.

“The accomplishments of these four young men make me very proud. The Maryland competition was extremely rigorous and to place third at this event is no small feat,” said Vonna Hammerschmitt, director of the university’s MESA program. MESA is geared for students in 6th through 12th grade.

Three members of the team last year completed the Johns Hopkins “What Is Engineering?” summer course offered on the Cal State Fullerton campus. The program is offered to area high school students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds who show promise in math and science. The other two team members are scheduled to attend this summer’s course, which begins July 9.

In May, the high school team won the MESA California Engineering Design Competition at Cal State Fresno. Winning this competition advanced the team to the national event, held June 22-24 at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.
This was the first time that any high school team from CSUF’s MESA program had participated in the national competition, Hammerschmitt said.

To get to the national event, the Fullerton MESA team in February finished first in the local MESA Day competition during CSUF’s Engineering Week, defeating 15 teams. In March, the group competed against 11 teams and swept the Southern California regional competition in Imperial Valley and qualified for the May state trebuchet contest.

The MESA competitions required students to design and build a trebuchet that demonstrated distance, accuracy and power. Additionally, the students had to write a technical paper, design an academic display board and give an oral presentation.

In preparation for the national contest, the students rewrote the technical paper three times, rebuilt the trebuchet, rehearsed their oral presentation and built a custom-designed travel case for the device.

Cal State Fullerton’s MESA program is an academic enrichment program, serving more than 1,400 students at seven area high schools and eight intermediate schools. The program offers a variety of services and activities to encourage students to pursue degrees in math, science, engineering and computer science.

More details about MESA are available online:


Media Contacts:

Vonna Hammerschmitt, CSUF MESA program director, 657-278-3114 or

Steve Nelson, Costa Mesa High School MESA, 714-424-8700 or

Debra Cano Ramos, Public Affairs, 657-278-4027, or

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