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Under-represented students from seven local schools eligible to participate

COURTESY PHOTO: PHOTOS BY KIM - Some students show off their invention at a MESA Day competition designed to help students excel in science, technology, engineering and math. Mt. Hood Community College has been designated as a regional center for a national science and math program that gives under-represented kids in seven local schools better opportunities in these disciplines.

Mt. Hood is now a center for the Oregon Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program.

Students from Centennial, Parkrose, Reynolds and David Douglas high schools, Centennial Park School and Dexter McCarty and Parkrose middle schools will be served by the college's MESA regional center. More schools are expected to be added.

The new program initially will serve about 135 students from these schools.

As part of MESA program, students are asked to create an invention, using a different theme ever year. Their creations will then be entered into the regional MESA Day competition, which usually occurs in May. Students that do well in that competition head to the MESA Nationals competition.

As a MESA regional center, Mt. Hood Community College will use the program to better equip these historically under-represented students with educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills.

MHCC students will also benefit, since they will be recruited as mentors for the younger students.

A regional coordinator at Mt. Hood will keep in touch with the students and their advisors at the seven schools so they are able to make progress building their inventions.

The program also will introduce the college to these students as a place to further their educations.

The MESA program originated in California and has been available at Portland State University's Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science since 1985.

MHCC's new vice president of instruction, Alfred McQuarters, said in an announcement that "At MHCC, we are committed to empowering all students with the opportunity to succeed in the pursuit of their academic journey. Becoming an official Oregon MESA regional center reaffirms this commitment and will greatly benefit students who are under-represented in STEM professional careers."

"This is an exciting opportunity to engage and inspire students in our districts using strategies that have been proven across the country," McQuarters said.

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