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First national win for TSA

Photo+provided+by+Mark+Burbank
Photo provided by Mark Burbank

Photo provided by Mark Burbank

Photo provided by Mark Burbank

By Nolan DeGarlais, News Editor

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Members of the MTHS Technology Student Association (TSA) attended the 2017 National TSA Conference at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel in Orlando, Florida from June 21-25. Eight sophomores and three freshmen during the 2016-17 school year, accompanied by advisors James Wilson and Mark Burbank, competed in 14 different events against more than 6,000 other students from across the United States, Germany, Turkey and Japan.

Two MTHS teams placed in the top 10 for their events and got onto the finalist stage, where they received their awards from the national TSA in front of all of the students and advisers in attendance.

Sophomores Reiden Chea and Sophie Burbank achieved first place in the nation in Structural Design and Engineering while Reiden Chea and fellow sophomores Dior Nazarov, Matthew Khajehpour, Robert Krieger and Reece Newhouse achieved ninth place in the nation in Animatronics. All team members who placed were awarded national finalist pins and the first place team in Structural Design and Engineering took home the national championship trophy for MTHS.

The Structural Design and Engineering team was tasked with building a model bridge that could hold the most mass in proportion to its weight and the Animatronics team was tasked with constructing an animatronic device that could fulfill a specific function, a task task involved both programming and design. The Animatronics team built an animatronic alligator, which can be viewed on display at MTHS TSA events.

Other events that members of the MTHS TSA chapter competed in included Biotechnology Design, Coding, Debating Technological Issues, Dragster Design, Essays on Technology, Engineering Design, On Demand Video, Photographic Technology, Prepared Presentation, Scientific Visualization, Software Development and Technology Bowl.

Though the members of MTHS TSA placed in many of their events, they not only gained the physical rewards that came with placing nationally, but they gained useful personal experiences from the competitions that they feel they can apply during the coming school year to further improve their events.

“As with other people on this trip, I learned a lot about the competition,” said former MTHS TSA president and current Treasurer Reiden Chea. “For one, our chapter as a whole learned that age and experience are not definitive barriers; our Structures team blew away the competition, yet both team members are sophomores. Our Animatronics team, completely made up of inexperienced first year sophomores, took ninth place on stage. We learned that as long as we put in our best work, effort, creativity and more, there are no barriers to stop us from succeeding.”

Some, such as MTHS TSA secretary Dylan Breuer, believed competing with their events nationally has made them better prepared to compete in those events in the future, at all levels of competition. Students such as Breuer have analyzed their events and identified ways in which they can do better in the future, in the hopes of becoming a national finalist.

“I plan to use the scores from the event and focus on [the] weak spots. I know Biotechnology Design’s weak spot was the display board, so I’m gonna see if I can get help [from a teacher with the display board’s design]… For the portfolio, it was a matter of [needing] more editing, so we will have to start [editing] immediately after [the state conference] to improve our projects,” Breuer said.

MTHS TSA members also gained team experience and bonding through working with each other to complete their projects and staying in a hotel with each other for nearly a week. TSA student leaders believe they can bring the chapter closer together with this experience from the conference and work more closely with each other over the coming school year so they can improve their events through the feedback of other chapter members.

“The most important part of attending the conference, in my opinion, was the opportunity to work as a team and family. We worked hard to ensure everybody met their deadlines, made any [necessary] last minute changes to their projects and so forth. We will be sure to carry on what we have learned [from the conference] into our chapter next year to further improve the leadership capabilities of our members,” Chea said.

This was the second year in a row members of MTHS TSA attended a national TSA conference, with Chea and Trevor Doan attending the 2016 National TSA Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Both students attended this year’s national conference as well, with some students’ motivation for attending the conference, such as Chea, being to improve upon their performance from last year’s conference and hopefully place in the top three in their events.

“To be honest, last year’s loss was definitely the driving factor for attending the national conference, for me,” Chea said. “At the previous national conference, my partner and I received fourth place, only losing third place by three-tenths of a point… However, this past year, my partner and I built over ten unique structures and tested each one to improve upon the next iteration in preparation for the national conference. As a result, we received first place with more than a ten point lead over second place; a considerable amount [for a TSA competition].”

Besides their competitions, TSA members had many other things to do at the conference, including general sessions which featured news and information about the national TSA as well as other presentations the national TSA leadership felt was relevant to the theme of the conference, “Defining Your Future.”

The first general session featured an interview between the national TSA president, Jack Crawford, and the founder of Rosen Hotels and Resorts, Harris Rosen. Rosen told the story of how he worked his way up through the world of business to found his own hotel company and achieve great success.

TSA members could also attend various seminars hosted by the national TSA, which focused on student leadership and the new TSA leadership program, LEAP.

The day after the end of the conference, MTHS TSA members got to have a day for themselves at Universal Studios Orlando, where they split up into groups and got to have free range of two out of the three theme parks: Islands of Adventure and Hollywood Studios. After this, the MTHS TSA members flew back into Washington on June 27.

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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.
First national win for TSA