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STEM Student Leaders Connect with Silicon Valley Industry

Nov 6, 2015

A select group of four University of the Pacific students honed their leadership skills at a special invitation-only conference for math-based majors in the country's science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) innovation hub.

The 12th Annual Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Student Leadership Conference was fully sponsored by industry donations. Edison International is the lead sponsor with additional funding from AT&T, Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric and Southern California Gas.

The conference, themed "Celebrating 45 Years of STEM Success," was held October 2-3 at the Santa Clara Marriott in Santa Clara. It offered students extensive professional and leadership development through direct interaction with industry mentors and speakers. The hand-picked MESA students, all science, engineering, or math majors, represent 38 universities and community colleges from across the state.

The Pacific conference attendees are Vida Chea, Delia Davila, Joel Montano and Ricardo Ramos.

Students participated in mock interviews, connected with industry representatives, heard guest speakers and attended workshops. This focus on so-called "soft skills" is a key to shaping well-rounded STEM professionals. Actor and scientist Christina Ochoa and Pixar also gave presentations.

The S D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation was named the 2015 MESA Champion for the company's long history of support of the program. Bechtel has early and close-knit roots with MESA; Bechtel chairman Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. was a staunch advocate in pushing internal support with his organization and recruiting other companies to support MESA in the mid 1970s. Bechtel vice president Richard Collins was named the first MESA industry advisory board chair.

Aneita Gage, technical training engineer at Intel Corporation, is this year's MESA Distinguished Alumnus. She participated in MESA while in high school and credits the program with being the driving force behind her desire to be an engineer. Gage has been with Intel for more than 20 years and previously worked for Xerox Corporation.

"We know that California's economy needs more STEM workers to stay competitive," said MESA Executive Director Oscar F. Porter. "These students provide the solution to industry's need for well-trained professionals. 

"They were selected to attend the conference because these students have strong leadership skills. This event gives them a chance to interact extensively with STEM professionals currently working in industry," said Porter.

Student attendees are from the following campuses: CSU Chico, CSU Fresno, CSU Long Beach, CSU Los Angeles, CSU Sacramento, San Diego State University, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, CSU Sonoma, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, University of the Pacific, American River College (Sacramento), Bakersfield College, Butte College (Oroville), Cañada College (Redwood City) , Chabot College (Hayward), City College of San Francisco, College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita), College of the Sequoias (Visalia), Contra Costa College (San Pablo), Cosumnes River College (Sacramento), Diablo Valley College (Pleasant Hill), Gavilan College (Gilroy), Hartnell College (Salinas), Los Medanos College (Pittsburg), Mission College (Santa Clara), Napa Valley College, Sacramento City College, San Joaquin Delta College (Stockton), Santa Barbara City College, Santa Rosa Junior College, Skyline College (San Bruno), Solano Community College (Fairfield), Ventura College, Woodland Community College, and Yuba College. 

MESA promotes STEM success for more than 28,000 educationally disadvantaged secondary, community college and four-year college students in California through project-based learning, academic counseling and exposure to STEM careers, so they can graduate from college with math-based degrees. Seventy percent of MESA high school graduates statewide went directly to college after graduation compared to 48 percent of all California graduates. Sixty percent of MESA students go on to math, science or engineering majors. Ninety-seven percent of MESA community college transfer students go to college as STEM majors.

For more information about the SLC visit http://mesa.ucop.edu/student-leadership-conference/

For more information about MESA visit http://mesa.ucop.edu/home.html


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