November 4, 2005

UC, California Utilities Partner to Improve Math and Science Education

The California Utility Diversity Council, a committee of the California Public Utilities Commission announced that it will invest $1.365 million in the University of California-led Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement program, marking the beginning of a new partnership to improve math and science education for disadvantaged K-12 students in California over the next three years.

The Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement program (MESA) will use the funds — which were contributed by various investor owned utility companies through the California Utility Diversity Council (CUCD) - to further develop the skills and knowledge of tomorrow’s engineers and scientists. Using $645,000 in financial contributions and $720,000 in-kind for internships, this work will take place in key focus areas: (1) K-12 academic preparation; (2) college matriculation support; and (3) paid internships designed to expose MESA graduates to the energy, telecommunications and water management industries and encourage them to pursue careers in these areas.

“We are honored by the CUDC’s decision to partner with us in this very important initiative,” said Michael Aldaco, UC assistant vice president for student academic preparation, and executive director of MESA. “This new level of support will allow MESA to provide yet another stepping stone on the path to establishing a lasting legacy of educational opportunity and work force diversity for California’s utility companies.”

The new collaborative builds on a history of cooperation between MESA and the state’s investor-owned utilities that spans nearly three decades.

Some 200 companies currently work with MESA to produce urgently needed math, engineering, science and technology professionals. Companies provide MESA with financial assistance, equipment, technical resources, internships, and volunteers. One of MESA’s strongest industry partners over the years has been utility companies.

This historic relationship has contributed to MESA’s success, which is evident in its student academic data:

- Approximately 75 percent of MESA high school seniors go directly to college, compared with 49 percent of all high school seniors statewide; 29 percent of MESA underrepre-sented seniors are eligible to attend UC, versus 6 percent of underrepresented seniors statewide.

- MESA graduates comprise 74 percent of all engineering baccalaureates awarded to underrepresented students in the state of California; they make up 12 percent of all such degrees nationwide.

-100 percent of MESA’s community college students transfer to four-year institutions with math, science or engineering majors.

The Mathematics, Engineering Science Achievement program prepares educationally disadvantaged students to attain university degrees in engineering, science and technology. MESA is an intersegmental program housed at the University of California and partners with California State University, the California Community Colleges and independent colleges in its work. It is funded by the state and by corporate and private philanthropy.

Some 200 companies work with MESA because they recognize that the program produces math, engineering, science and technology professionals urgently needed in the work force. Established in California in 1970, the program has been replicated in 15 other states.

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