Students Compete to Create Prosthetic Arm at WSU

OGDEN, Utah – Teams of middle and high school students from across nine states will compete to design a prosthetic arm that can complete a variety of tasks during an event held at Weber State University, June 24 and 25.

WSU’s College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology, in partnership with Utah MESA (math, engineering, science, achievement) and the Utah State Office of Education (USOE), will host the MESA USA National Engineering Design Competition. The competition begins in the Shepherd Union Ballrooms, June 24 at 9 a.m. for middle-school students and 11 a.m. for high-school students. Awards will be given beginning at 8 a.m., June 25.

“It is very exciting to have these really clever and innovative students from around the country come to compete at WSU,” said Dana Dellinger, Center for Technology Outreach director.

The 2015-16 MESA season began with 49,000 middle and high school students and ended with a few top teams who compete at the championship held at WSU.

MESA helps students use critical thinking, creativity and teamwork to deliver an engineering-based solution to modern problems. Each prosthetic arm must perform several functions.

  • Distance Accuracy Task: greatest distance and accuracy throwing bean bags at a target in the fastest time.
  • Object Relocation Task: fastest time placing and removing objects from a container.
  • Dexterity Task: greatest number of bolts and nuts correctly placed and secured in the fastest time.
  • Design efficiency: greatest ratio of device performance to device mass, plus greatest ratio of device performance to total cost of materials.

 “It is fun and inspiring to see how differently the teams approach the challenges, how they work together and encourage each other,” Dellinger said. “We admire the coaches and teachers as well, for providing the structure, organization and encouragement the students need to be successful.” 

In addition, students must submit a technical paper of five to 15 pages describing the scope of their projects. They also must prepare a presentation board and present their work to a panel of engineering judges.

Utah MESA was established in 1985 and is celebrating its 31st year helping students excel in science, technology, engineering and math-based subjects. These STEM fields are a large part of the future job market in Utah and the U.S.

“MESA is a wonderful vehicle to address the achievement gap between students who are underrepresented in science, technology and engineering jobs,” said Rita Brock, event organizer and MESA education specialist for the Utah State Office of Education.

For a complete schedule for the MESA competition, visit

Visit for more news about Weber State University.


Allison Barlow Hess, Director of Public Relations
801-626-7948 •


Dana Dellinger, Center for Technology Outreach director
801-626-7552 •