An Arizona State University magazine featured Ryan Madler, Bradshaw Mountain High School Class of 2012 valedictorian, in a story about an after-school program focusing on math, engineering and science.
Madler said his participation in MESA - Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement - an after-school program at Bradshaw, motivated him to pursue a degree in electrical engineering at Arizona State University.
In an article published March 19 in Full Circle, Engineering News for Alumni and Friends, by Joe Kullman, media relations officer with ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Madler talks about his involvement with MESA.
"In high school I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to study in college. I had some ideas, of course, but I was unsure of what any of these fields of study I was thinking about would actually be like.
"I did think of becoming an engineer. My father is an engineer. From what I had seen of his work, engineering seemed like an interesting and rewarding career. But I didn't know how I could determine if that career path would suit me.
"To complicate things, the enjoyment I had once gotten from math was beginning to wane - not a good sign for an aspiring engineer.
"Around that time, however, I joined two high school clubs - the Distributive Education Clubs of America, a business club, and the MESA club.
"MESA gave me an opportunity to work on projects that involved engineering in its most rudimentary form. I joined a wind-turbine challenge project team and we built a small windmill that performed a variety of tasks. It turned out to be a complicated project. The variables and potential solutions involved were almost endless, but I think that's when I began to become fascinated by engineering.
"I came to view engineering as a way to learn how to solve problems and challenges in unique ways, and to help improve the world. The wind-turbine project taught me about processes of designing and redesigning in ways similar to what real engineers do.
"Through MESA, I was also able to meet several engineering professors at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Arizona State University. I got the opportunity to go the ASU campus in Tempe when my team competed in MESA Day activities.
"The visit to ASU was a great experience. Something about seeing the campus alive with so many students made it appeal to me more than other college campuses I had toured.
"In the end, though, it was the MESA program that had a profound influence on my decision to choose to go to ASU to study electrical engineering. I'm in the second semester of my freshman year and I'm enjoying my engineering classes immensely."