MESA seizes opportunity

By Yesenia Martinez


Summer-vacation internships were the topic of the hour at the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement program’s fourth annual research poster symposium last Wednesday in the E7 lobby.

Students spent their time during the summer vacation doing internship work with various partners of MESA such as the United States Navy, NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Bridges to the Future, Cal State University, Los Angeles and University of California, Irvine.

More than a dozen students participated in presenting their research. Joseph Meneses worked on educational outreach through NASA’s Space Place, Climate Kids and SciJinks Websites that are managed by JPL’s Space Place Team.

Meneses said “I was able to get hands-on experience during my internship.”

One of the games he created, Butterfrog Mix-up, is a rotating-tile puzzle game that describes the damage a changing climate can cause.

To create these games, students used Adobe Flash Professional and coded using ActionScript 3.

Fernando Jaime, computer science major, also did his internship with NASA. Jaime created Stump the Displacifer: Animal Edition.

For the other application, he worked with Meneses on creating Solar System Scrambled targeted for children in elementary through middle school.

It is a guessing game that provides visual clues on objects in the solar system.

NASA provided content for the educational games.

Jaime said that when he started his internship he had one program class under his belt and that it was not enough because he just learned the basics.

At the end of his internship, he increased his programming skills making it easier for him to understand hands-on.

Jaime said, “After spending 10-weeks working hands-on, I was more confident in my work. I was happy that I got this opportunity.”

He was able to experience the cycle of software development.

He also said that he was able to learn how to work with a team and how to meet deadlines.

Both students hope to get the opportunity to do this next summer.

The team took the game to children to see if they were interested in and if it would be educational for them.

Armando Rivera, director of MESA and STEM programs, said that they offer internships to MESA and STEM students so they can learn new skills, be competitive when transferring and improve oral and writing skills.

Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average and be in their second year to be eligible to participate.

Rivera said that the programs partnerships also send out emails on what they are looking for.

Funding is provided by National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Transportation, Science Technology Engineering Program and Department of Education.

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