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New Mexico MESA high school team repeats as national champion

PHILADELPHIA – New Mexico MESA students from Deming High School are celebrating another huge accomplishment. At the 2017 MESA USA National Engineering Design Competition held in Philadelphia, the Deming High School team beat thousands of students and again won first place honors on June 23.


“We entered the competition with one goal in mind, to defend our National Championship and we did just that!” said team captain David Velez, a junior at Deming High. “We are back-to-back National Champions – it is a dream come true.”

His teammate, Adrian Luna, had a sense of relief after the competition.

“I didn’t realize the level of skill and talent we were going to compete against,” Luna said. “I was totally nervous, but we did it. Repeat national champions!”

The other two teammates are Adriana Darrow and Antoni Varela. The adviser is David Jaramillo.

The Chaparral Middle School team from Chaparral also was successful. They came in second place after Mendota Middle School, from Mendota, California. Team members from Chaparral Middle School include Kevin Ramos, Alfredo Sepulveda and Luis Jimenez, who are determined to take the first-place trophy back to Chaparral in 2018.

“The competition gave my students the opportunity to work on a real-world problem and accomplish something great,” said their adviser, Rina Viramontes. “They worked with tools and computer applications that college students are using. My students worked hard and I am extremely proud of them.”

The engineering challenge is to build a prosthetic arm within a limited budget and under a certain weight. The arm has to perform tasks such as relocating objects, throwing objects at a target and screwing a nut onto a bolt through a wood board, totally under the command of a microprocessor using computer programming. Each team also is required to write a five- to 15-page technical paper, create a poster display and develop a 10-minute oral presentation.

Deming High and Chaparral Middle are part of the Southwest Region of NM MESA, housed at New Mexico State University. Both teams had previously competed in the state competition in March beating 500 students from throughout New Mexico. They placed first at the state level and earned a spot at the national competition. Then, at Nationals they competed against other MESA teams from Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington.

The Southwest Region reports to Terry Ramirez, regional coordinator. Ramirez expressed her gratitude to the advisers, students, parents and NMSU for their continued support of NM MESA. She congratulated the students for their outstanding work ethic and commitment to NM MESA’s mission and is confident they will succeed in their academic careers.

The student winners will be honored at a dinner Thursday, Aug. 10, at the Grapevine Plaza in Las Cruces.

NM MESA’s mission is to empower and motivate New Mexico’s culturally diverse students with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) enrichment.

NM MESA is a year-round, multi-year, science, technology, engineering and math initiative that works with school districts and higher education institutions to improve New Mexico student STEM performance, increase New Mexico college STEM enrollment and provide hands-on STEM competitions.

NM MESA has regional offices at Eastern New Mexico University, New Mexico Highlands University, New Mexico State University, Santa Fe Community College, University of New Mexico and Western New Mexico University.

For more information on NM MESA, contact Ramirez at 575-646-1382 or tramirez@nmmesa.org.