UC Merced offers many amazing opportunities for incoming students and faculty. Our school has world-class laboratories including the MESA lab. MESA is an acronym for Mechatronics, Embedded Systems and Automation. The lab is located in the city of Atwater and it currently has 60 members enrolled.
Chris Reps, a second year material sciences major and member of the MESA Lab, shared his experience on working in the lab.
Prodigy: “What kind of research opportunities does MESA offer?”
Reps: “So personally, I am working under Blair [another robotics intern] for robotics as a robotics intern. There’s a lot of drone opportunities working with quad copters, fixing drones and things like that for crops analysis and water stress on plants in the central valley
Prodigy: “So what made you want to join MESA?”
Reps: “Freshman year I was in the UAV engineering service learning class and through that I met Tebiat, he was one of the lab managers. Dr. Chen was one of the co-founders of the lab with Brandon Starc and they really got me interested in UAVs, aerial imaging and things like that as well.”
Prodigy: “What’s the coolest thing about working in a lab?”
Reps: “Probably how I get to learn in a different setting than school. I get to have real hands on experiences. They give me a project and I get to code it, making sure it works.
Prodigy: “Is there a lot of collaboration with other departments/lab groups to help make this project happen?”
Reps: “There’s a lot of collaboration with the engineering service learning classes as they have the UAV class. There’s also a lot of collaboration with AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) and we work with them because we have a design building fly competition where we build a remote control plane and fly it to complete certain tasks.”
Prodigy: “Where do you launch the rockets? Do you need permits or how does that work?
Reps: “We go to either one of two organizations. Either Tripoli or NAR (National Association of Rocketry). They have an event out by Stockton and another event, out like past Fresno and they’re in the middle of the field so that it won’t hurt anything. They have certified members at level 3 which is the highest you can be and we are working to get people to be certified at level 1 and level 2 certification.
With level 1 certification you can buy larger rockets you can buy without a permit and [for] level 2 you have to take a written test. You also buy larger rockets ten times the size of level 1 rockets, impulse-wise. They’re all measured by impulse they produce. Through those organizations they make sure we’re operating safely and the location ensures that there’s no risk of anyone getting hurt.”
Prodigy: “What advice can you give to students trying to get more involved with research?”
Reps: “For research, contact instructors and professors. MESA lab is always recruiting and offering opportunities for even freshman. Come talk to clubs in club rush. It’s all about starting conversations.”
Prodigy: “What does the MESA lab hope to achieve in the future?”
Reps: “I know that a lot of their projects are targeted towards serving the Central Valley with our water stress and aerial imaging through drones. So they’re hoping to reduce water consumption and make it more efficient in terms of its distributions.”
Students and faculty participating in MESA Labs is just one of the amazing opportunities our school has to offer. Nonetheless, it is amazing to see Bobcats making a difference through their research and academic endeavors.
Photo Credit: MESA Lab