Technology Student Association (TSA) competes to go to states, possibly nationals


The Technology Student Association(TSA) from junior high and high school levels gather for a group picture after their regional competition held at the junior high.

Ninth grader Juan Gil working on a computer in the robotics event at TSA competition on Feb. 9.

Brains have been racing in the Technology Student Association (TSA) to see who is the best of the technological teams. Fifteen students have qualified for state conferences and will compete there to qualify for nationals.

“TSA is made up of over 50 events, I for one compete in six events, which is what every member is suggested to do. I do challenging technology issues, tech. bowl and system control,” ninth grade competitor  Juan Gil said.

“I compete in tech. bowl, problem solving, challenging tech. issues, system control and leadership strategies. All of them have a lot do with technology, but all in separate ways. For example, in system control we have to make a robot that completes a task, in challenging tech issues, you are given a short amount of time to prepare to debate about a topic,” ninth grade competitor Sam Houk said.

“At each level there are 30 competitions. They vary in problem solving activities, prepared speech, structural engineering, robotics and management challenges,” TSA advisor Tim Dzurko said.

For the past two years, Altoona has been the host of the competition for TSA for junior high and high school. The whole first floor of the junior high is used to hold events. After these competitions come the state competitions. Only individuals make it to the conference, not the whole team.

“This will be my second time going to states, I didn’t make it in seventh  grade, I made it last year and this year I qualified,” Houk said.

“States are Apr. 17-20 at Seven Springs Resort in Champion, Pennsylvania and if they place first there they go to Orlando, Florida from June 28-July 2. It is also the 35th anniversary of TSA,” Dzurko said.

“We can qualify for nationals. A lot of competitions are on site, so we can’t prepare for the exact issue, so it all depends on what we’re doing that day. Like in problem solving, depending on the given problem, we could make a mistake or we could just do well,” Houk said.

In total, there are 11 students representing the junior high at the state conferences. They  are Juan Gil, Sam Houk, Aaron Worley, Maryssa Brandt, Kierra Irwin, Madison Reed, Tyler Rispoli, Vanessa Gil, Jen Worley, Hannah Brown and Allan Buchness. Students representing the high school at the state competitions are Chris Reighard, Marissa Morgan, Amber Boring and Seth Marasco. Marissa Morgan and Juan Gil are the Chapter Presidents for Altoona.

“Mrs. Manack and I had a total of 28 participants this year combined,” Dzurko said.

“In each event there can usually be a variety of entries, I know in one event there was only one entry and in another there were over twenty,” Gil said.

For those who participate in TSA, during their senior year they may receive a scholarship for college. There are a total of three scholarships obtainable. More information about the scholarships are here:

“State College is usually some major competition. Pennsylvania is one of the most competitive states along with Texas, so competition is fierce.” Gil said.

“State College has always been a very good competitor, they really put a  lot of academics in their competition and are a very challenging school to overcome,” Houk said

Some other school Dzurko mentioned that present a challenge for Altoona are Penns Valley, Bellefonte, Bellwood, Richland and Windber.

Throughout the years, there have been new events introduced to TSA. Some have become more popular than others. Many of the new events have to do with robotics and programming.

“Depending on the events, some are more popular, anywhere from 20-40, and in tech bowl, somewhere around 50 and in leadership strategies, close to 20,” Houk said.

“Digital photo competition, robotic programming competition, and hands on problem solving have become more popular recently,” Dzurko said.

“In things like system control we had to build a robot that completed a task, but these events are ranged that have anything to do with technology,” Gil said.

“I like problem solving, or anything where I work with a select team to solve a problem in our own way,” Houk said.

If any students are interested in joining TSA, the time to do so is close to the beginning of the school year of 2013. Advisors are always looking for new members to join. For any question or for more informations about the TSA program see Dzurko here for the national website: or go here for the Pennsylvania website: