Sacramento State’s MESA Engineering Program (MEP) was created for students 24 years ago and is still going strong.
MEP’s campaign to recruit student engineers from underserved communities has been accelerated this year with a “cascading” strategy to identify young men and women with potential,then groom them for success in the demanding academic field.
Sacramento State’s MEP director Jaime White (center front) and first-year MEP students.
Jaime White, MEP director, credits the campaign for offering comprehensive, multilayered mentoring services to all freshman MEP students. “We are committed to serving students who might not otherwise enter the field,” he says. “The project addresses the current and forecasted shortage of qualified professionals in engineering, engineering management, research and academia.”
MEP’s current enrollment numbers 400, including 70 first-year students who have participated in Friday workshops for 13 weeks. These intensive sessions are designed to prepare the students to succeed academically and condition them to become workforce-ready engineers.
Mentoring is one of MEP’s keys. White emphasizes that each first-year student will be mentored by at least two professional engineers. The mentees also will be guided by upper-division MEP students who can provide tips on making a successful transition to college life.
The Nov. 30 workshop in the University Union featured guest speaker Jason Issac, an MEP alumnus who has worked as a civil engineer and is now a consultant. His presentation focused on the importance of personal budgeting, which can be crucial to first-year students as they deal with college expenses.
Plans for the spring semester include pairing first-year students with engineering professors who will motivate the more ambitious members to pursue graduate degrees, perhaps leading to occupations as researchers or as professors of engineering or computer science. White also envisions the program adding an element of entrepreneurship.
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– Alan Miller