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Compton-Dominguez High School engineering duo crowned national champions

COMPTON (MNS)— Two Manuel Dominguez High School students have been crowned winners in the national Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement’s (MESA) engineering design competition for 2015, the second such honor in eight years for a school

COMPTON (MNS)— Two Manuel Dominguez High School students have been crowned winners in the national Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement’s (MESA) engineering design competition for 2015, the second such honor in eight years for a school in the Compton Unified School District.

The award-winning duo of Azucena Castro and Jennifer Barrientos, took top honors for the most affordable and efficient design of a prosthetic arm at this year’s competition held at Weber University in Ogden, Utah, June 17-20.

In 2007, Compton’s Franklin D. Roosevelt Middle School won the national title.

Dominguez’s UC-bound MESA engineers competed against teams from 10 states. Their winning entry was fashioned using a mailing tube, duct tape, rubber bands, synthetic belt, a claw, and eraser. The budget for the arm was only $25, well below budget restrictions for the competition.

MESA advisor Emmanuel Ikeokonta expressed pride for his students’ success.

“This is the very first time Dominguez has gone to the national competition for high schools. It means the world to me,” Ikeokonta said. “I’ve watched these students grow over the years. They are not just students to me. They are my children.”

Bound for the University of California at Berkeley, Castro, who will pursue a major in computer science, expressed hope that her triumph will inspire other Compton students to reach high in their academic conquests.

“I hope we can influence other [students] to do the same,” she said. “I was in shock when we won. The other teams were very good, but we are an example of how Compton students can succeed.”

For Jennifer Barrientos, who will enter U.C. Irvine in the fall in pursuit of a biomedical engineering degree, said she hoped the honor of a national title will send a message “that our city can do anything.

“It was an amazing experience and I’m glad I participated in the MESA program,” she said.

Micah Ali, president of CUSD’s Governing Board of Trustees, said Dominguez’s national title is further proof of the ongoing academic turnaround taking place in Compton schools.

“This historic win is the result of Compton Unified’s embrace of STEM into our science curriculum,” Ali said. “Without question, STEM is a vital avenue through which our students acquire math and science skills needed to succeed in college and career. This is a prime example of how our students can compete and succeed at the highest level.”

RELATED: Dominguez High students headed to MESA nationals

Compton Herald is a digital news publication providing clear, fair and current news, information and commentary about Compton, the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Los Angeles County, California, and the world.

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