The Johns Hopkins Gazette: December 10, 2001
December 10, 2001
VOL. 31, NO. 14


APL-sponsored Maryland MESA Program Wins $10,000 Presidential Award

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Maryland MESA will be honored by President Bush this week when it will be presented a $10,000 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement Program, sponsored by the Applied Physics Laboratory, will receive the award for providing greater technology career opportunities to a wider range of people through its education and mentoring efforts.

The award, administered on behalf of the White House by the National Science Foundation, identifies outstanding mentoring efforts and programs designed to enhance the participation of groups--among them, women, minorities and persons with disabilities--that are underrepresented in science, mathematics and engineering. The award recognizes MESA's high level of assistance and encouragement to students, says Marilyn J. Suiter, program director of NSF's Education and Human Resources. The award will be presented Dec. 12 in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., that also honors 10 individuals and 10 institutions that have been leaders in encouraging students to pursue careers in scientific, engineering and technical fields.

Modeled after a California program, Maryland MESA was founded in 1976 by APL with two schools in Baltimore City. Now in its 25th year of continuous operation, the program has expanded to 155 elementary, middle and high schools statewide. It is designed to motivate students, especially ethnic minorities and females, and enhance their math, science and engineering skills. Nationwide, MESA is helping 36,000 students in eight states.

"I'm elated," says APL's Robert H. Willis, director of Maryland MESA. "The funds will be used to expand our precollege programs and mentor more students throughout Maryland. These programs encourage young people to take challenging courses, and [they] provide real-life field experiences that expand the students' potential. During the past 25 years, we have worked with hundreds of students from elementary school through high school graduation. In the 1999-2000 school year, 92 percent of MESA seniors were accepted into colleges and universities, and 78 percent of them are majoring in engineering, mathematics or science."

MESA is one of the many ways that APL fulfills the Hopkins vision of leadership in education, says Richard T. Roca, director of APL. "This award reflects APL's commitment to education by supporting, enriching and challenging young people in the mathematics, science and engineering fields. Mentorship provides opportunities for diverse individuals and groups to prosper in ways that move the nation ahead, and the Lab is proud to be part of such a worthy effort."

Maryland MESA is supported by a partnership of Maryland school systems, colleges and universities, business and industry, government agencies, community organizations, parents and alumni. For more information, go to