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Summer Residential Program at UCR Gives High School Students a Taste of College

Summer Residential Program at UCR Gives High School Students a Taste of College

(July 16, 1999)

Forty-nine high school juniors and seniors are designing and building robots and studying ways to reduce air pollution in a five-week residential program at the University of California, Riverside to help students prepare for college and stimulate their interest in science, mathematics and engineering.

The MESA (Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement) Summer Program, currently under way and scheduled to run through Friday, July 30, also includes academic courses in algebra, pre-calculus, chemistry and physics, as well as workshops on such topics as career exploration, word processing, goal setting and time management.

The students will take several field trips to investigate careers involving in-depth knowledge of math, science and engineering; for instance, they will visit a firm which designs and builds robots for theme parks and tour the Scripps Institute scientific research facility.

Dennis Lopez, director of UCR's MESA Program, said the experience of living in a campus residence hall, taking courses on a university campus and participating in laboratory research exposes students to world-class research university and industry facilities. The experience will hopefully inspire them to excel in the highly competitive math- and science-based majors in college and pursue careers in those fields, he said. The MESA Summer Program is funded by the state legislature and administered by UCR and the University of California Office of the President.

Students participating in the summer program are from school districts in Riverside, Corona and Palm Springs and were selected based on their academic achievement and interest in math, science and engineering.

The UCR program is being coordinated by: Keith Oddson, UCR associate dean of engineering; Linda O'Neill, director of special programs in the engineering college; Javier Hernandez, UCR director of Early Academic Outreach; and Roderick Smith, assistant director of Early Academic Outreach.

The inaugural MESA Summer Program at UCR is one of many campus efforts to reach out to improve the academic achievement of students, helping more young people prepare for college.

Visuals: Students enrolled in the program will be involved in a number of interactive projects, including:

  • Constructing solar powered ovens, a simple and economical technology for cooking food that shows particular promise in developing countries where wood-fire cooking depletes natural resources and pollutes indoor environments. The students will construct their ovens from cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, glass plates, Teflon film, tape and glue from 1:45-3:45 p.m. Monday, July 19, and test their ovens from 1:45-3:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 21. Both sessions will be at UCR's Center for Environmental Research and Technology, 1200 Columbia Ave., Riverside.
  • Design, program and construct robots using the Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention System. The work will be ongoing on Mondays and Wednesdays between July 5 and July 21, culminating in two competitions between student teams. One of the competitions, "robot laser tag," is expected to be held from 1:45-3:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 21, in Room B156 of Bourns Hall, UCR. Reporters should call ahead for specifics on the robot construction module.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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